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Young Player of the Year 2006
Comfortably the most injury-prone player in the clubs history, Freeman has displayed a stunning propensity to fall victim to all manner of injuries both on and off the field. A collision with a pallet truck almost ended his season before it had even begun and his frequent trips to the toilet before, during and after games have led to some considerable debate as to the state of his health. He really is a quite sickly child, a condition that is not greatly helped by a chronic fear of dogs.
Many years ago cricket in the north of England revolved around a simple premise. When in need of a fast bowler teams simply whistled down the pit and the latest run of the mill miner would step off the production line and emerge blinking into the sunlight to be instantly transformed into a lethal pace ace equipped with searing speed to spearhead the attack.
There arent many pits near Offley so when the club found themselves in need of a new quick bowler in 2003 they simply headed for the nearest infirmary and wheeled out Matthew Freeman.
A great deal has been spoken and written about Freeman since he made his debut. Some of it has been mildly libellous and some of it has stretched credibility to its limits (its still difficult to convince some people that Freeman could go on cricket tour for a week and fail to score a run, take a wicket or hold a catch). Yet most of it has been stone cold truth and while Freeman might not be the Real McCoy theres no doubt that he eats plenty of them, ploughing through family-sized packs with gusto.
Although he might not have claimed that many wickets during his time with the club, Matthew I only turn up to bowl Freeman has wasted little time in establishing a thoroughly well deserved reputation as the most injury-prone player in history. Freeman has displayed a stunning propensity to fall victim to all manner of injuries both on and off the field. In 2005 a collision with a pallet truck almost ended his season before it had even begun and his frequent trips to the toilet before, during and after games have led to some considerable debate as to the state of his health. On various occasions during the 2006 campaign Freeman was forced to leave the field in search of a tissue, some sugar and urgent water supplies after bowling a single over at Shenley Village. How we laughed as the ball fizzed through the gap he had just vacated en-route to the boundary.
Despite his plethora of injuries and the ability to inflict considerable harm upon himself via the relatively simple act of putting on his shirt, Freeman confounded the sceptics by playing in every game during the successful Saracens League campaign.
This performance was a revelation as the Boy of Brittle Bones was transformed into The Man of Iron, arguably the greatest recorded miracle since Phil Gourds doppelganger did that trick with the loaves and the fish. Actually as were on biblical themes perhaps it would be more appropriate to compare Freeman to Lazarus, rising from his sickbed to cast aside his crutches and charge into bowl.
Whereas in previous years he had been plagued by no ball problems and an apparent inability to bowl a hoop downhill, Freeman proved in 2006 that despite all this he can stay fit long enough to produce testing spells. Never shy of a word or a glare particularly when confronted by young teenage opponents Freeman enjoyed his finest hour against Broxbourne when he produced a devastating spell to claim three wickets in an over and finish with five in all as the weather closed in and threatened to ruin Offleys title dash.
He has proved that when he actually makes it on to the pitch he is a dangerous proposition for batsmen. Despite lacking any semblance of a run up (a typical Freeman spell involves running in from at least three difference spots), he is capable of delivering a seriously heavy ball and has added a vicious yorker to his arsenal. To date he still has not quite rid himself of the utter dross hes capable of sending down on occasion, the type of rubbish that threatens to damage the health of the unfortunate fielders in the slip cordon.
His batting remains a work in progress. He has undoubted power but also appears to have a slightly unhealthy fear of the ball and is happiest going in down the order with a license to swing. Attempts to promote him up the order have met with little success but he passed the 50-run barrier for the first time this season.
His fielding is relatively maladroit but he produced some surprisingly good stops at times, his commitment is not usually in doubt.His catching has improved and the sight of Freeman circling under the high ball no longer provokes quite the same feeling of dread and certainty that the ball is shortly to collide with the earth.
Freeman has surprisingly
established himself as a semi-reliable source for providing
player talent. As well as introducing Chris Latino to the club,
Freeman also brought Gareth Mathewson to Offley. It should be
noted that these are the success stories. Some of his other
recruits (notably the opening bowler who bowled really well last
week in the park with a tennis ball) have not been quite as
All things considered despite the crisp packets abandoned in the changing room, the leg stump long hops and the slightly questionable attitude to fielding Freeman has established himself as an integral part of the club, an inspiration for the sick, crippled and lame everywhere.
Matthew Freeman, the Modern Day Gladiator, we salute you!