Former Australian Test cricketer and SANFL footballer Eric Freeman has passed away aged 76 after suffering a heart attack.
Former Australian Test cricketer and SANFL footballer Eric Freeman has passed away aged 76 after suffering a heart attack.

Australian cricket great dies aged 76

Former Australian Test cricketer Eric Freeman has passed away aged 76.

Freeman was taken to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital after he suffered a heart attack last weekend, before passing away on Monday evening.

He played 11 Test matches for Australia after making his international debut in 1968, scoring 345 runs and claiming 34 wickets.

The talented all-rounder was the first cricketer in history to bring up his maiden Test runs with a six.

Freeman also played 83 first-class matches, representing South Australia in the Sheffield Shield.

He boasted career-best figures of 8/47, achieved against the touring New Zealanders at Adelaide Oval in 1967.

The right-armer also claimed 8/64 during South Australia's clash against New South Wales in 1971 while battling a hamstring injury.

 

Freeman played Australian rules football during the winter months, and represented Port Adelaide in 116 matches in the SANFL.

He won an SANFL premiership in 1965, was awarded the Ken Farmer Medal in 1966 and was the leading goal-kicker during the 1967 season with 81 goals.

Following his retirement, Freeman served as a commentator for ABC Radio, and received the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2002 for "services to sport, particularly cricket as a player, administrator and commentator."

Cricket Australia chair Earl Eddings called Freeman "one of the greatest athletes South Australia has ever produced."

"(Freeman) was an all-rounder in every sense of the word - powerful with both bat and ball in cricket and a prodigious goal-kicker with the Magpies in the winter months," Eddings said.

"He remained a popular member of the cricket family after his retirement as a player with commentary roles on the ABC and junior development positions with West Torrens.

"On behalf of everyone within Australian cricket, we pass on our sincere condolences to Eric's family."

Radio presenter sports commentator Eric Freeman.
Radio presenter sports commentator Eric Freeman.

Port Adelaide chief executive Matthew Richardson said Freeman's passing was a sad day for the club.

"The Port Adelaide Football Club passes on its heartfelt condolences to Eric's wife Dianne, daughter Michelle and the entire Freeman family during this time," Richardson said in a statement.

"Eric was everything that Port Adelaide stood for. Born in Semaphore, he was always part of the Port Adelaide community, and across his playing career represented everything our club stands for - humility, fairness and brilliance.

"Eric was a key component of the Port Adelaide side throughout the 1960s that created a legacy for our club on the national stage today. He always enjoyed staying connected with his club, a regular at events when he could attend and was terrific company. It is a very sad day for the Port Adelaide family."

Peter Anderson trying to smother Eric Freeman's kick in 1971.
Peter Anderson trying to smother Eric Freeman's kick in 1971.

Speaking to Wide World of Sports, Australian cricket great Ian Chappell paid tribute to his former teammate.

"He was great all-round athlete, very strong," Chappell said.

"As a fast bowler he had a really strong shoulder action, which took advantage of his build."

"His biggest problem in cricket, especially when he was batting, was at the Adelaide Oval. There was this bloke who'd come to every Shield match and as soon as 'Fritz' walked out to bat this guy would yell out, 'Carn the Pies' and suddenly 'Fritz' would imagine he was playing in the football grand final with 60,000 people roaring.

"He couldn't help himself. He could bat but he was a big hitter and tended to get carried away a bit."

Freeman's granddaughter Tayler posted to Twitter: "RIP poppa I'm so proud of what you accomplished in life with your sporting career - you're a true legend."

 

 

 

Originally published as Australian cricket great dies aged 76


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