The argument over the greatness between Marvel’s Avengers and DC’s Justice League will always be there. Fights can be seen between the dearest of friends or siblings over this question! Well, I am just waiting for an illustrator or author to sketch up a superhero who can do it all, the perfect all-rounder. As AB de Villiers, maybe?
For a long time after the emergence of ABD, many of the cricket fans believed that he was an all-round sports prodigy at school. We all until a certain period believed that ABD had held South African national records in swimming and athletics, was a tennis and badminton prodigy, a standout junior rugby and soccer player, as well as playing off a scratch handicap in golf. But, this was all a myth that was later debunked by the great batsman himself in his biography.
So if one has to look for a superhero inspiration in the cricketing world, who would it be? Well, there is one person for sure who did it all at a professional level. CB Fry.
CB Fry to Indians is the person who was the batting partner of the great Ranjitsinhji. But the achievements of CB Fry were far greater than that of Ranjitsinhji. Yes, while the Indian legend moved the bat like a wand while playing the leg glance, Fry was copybook batsman abiding by the cricket grammar.
But the partnership of Fry and Ranji was not just restricted to the cricket pitch. Fry was a scholar and was known to have written a speech for Ranji, Jam Sahib of Nawanagar, who was one of the three Indian delegates in the League of Nations in 1920.
But his achievements were beyond cricket. This person had his mark over subjects beyond sports. At Oxford, he gained a total of twelve sporting Blues for representing his university, and in one year he captained the football, athletics and cricket teams, earning him the nicknames of ‘Almighty’ and ‘Lord Oxford’.
Born April 25, 1872, was an England cricket captain, football international, the world record holder for long jump, and a scholar. During his career, Fry managed to score 94 First Class centuries. Having said that, I think, Fry’s biggest cricketing achievement was perhaps his six hundred on the trot in First-class cricket in the summer of 1901. Later it was equaled by the likes of Don Bradman and Mike Procter in 1938 and 1970 respectively. But none surpassed the record, till now.
Undoubtedly, being such a great cricketer during his time helped him become the captain of the English cricket team. And he never lost any match as captain. A true invincible. Perfect inspiration while penning down a superhero character one would say. He also captained Sussex during his time. Also, he scored more than 30,000 first-class runs with an average of over 50 runs per innings.
But he is an Avenger. A true all-rounder. His authority over a subject was witnessed by the athletic field as well. In 1892 Fry broke the British long jump record with a leap of 23 feet 5 inches. And a year later Fry equaled the world long jump record of 23 feet 6 and 1⁄2 inches. Fry was also a reputed shot-putter, hammer-thrower, handy with the javelin, and represented his College in Ice-Skating.
However, not everything was served upon a plate for Fry. During his final term, he suffered from the first of his many encounters with mental illness. The break-down mainly was caused due to the amount of debt he had accumulated. To repay those Fry, the Avenger of my story also had posed as a nude model! Then cricket came to his life.
But it was not all that Fry had to offer. The other facet of Fry was soon uncovered. In March 1901, he received his only England cap, as a full-back against Ireland at Southampton. But it was cricket that attracted him the most and he took a break from the football turf to be on a cricket pitch. But he also was a proud runner up of the prestigious FA Cup playing for Southampton before winding up his Football career.
But no one is invincible. Even the Avengers lost at times. Fry was no movie character, he was a real one. And he lost too. Despite being successful in all that he touched, he could not get into the British Parliament even after three different attempts.
Another dark mark in Fry’s life was that of subscribing to Adolf Hitler’s views of the Jewish people. Fry was known to have met Hitler when he was invited to Nazi Germany to discuss the youth problems there.
And as Iron Man died in the ‘End Game’ movie, my quest for a replacement started. I started looking for the one who could do it all. Who could take the place of Iron Man in my fantasy world? And I almost found that man in CB Fry. In the process, revived the memory of a true all-rounder from the pages of history.