Fender began his first-class career with Sussex. He made his debut in 1910, but achieved little at the club and in 1914 moved to Surrey, where he was to remain for the rest of his time in the game and found much success. He took 84 wickets that season helping Surrey to win the County Championship, and was named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in the Almanack's 1915 edition; when cricket resumed after the war in 1920 he claimed 124 victims. Between 1921 and 1931 he was the county's captain and made the most of a mediocre attack to force Surrey into Championship contention on many occasions. Herbert Sutcliffe wrote in 1935 that he was the best captain that he had known, ahead even of Douglas Jardine and Brian Sellers.
In 1921, too, Fender made his England debut, in the third Test against Australia at Adelaide in January. He played in the last three Tests on that tour, taking 5-122 in the fourth Test and 5-90 -- his best figures for England -- in the fifth with his leg-spin, but could not save England from being crushed 5-0 in the series, the first of three successive heavy Ashes series defeats. Domestically, this was the most productive period of his career as he took 157 wickets in 1922 and 178 the year after. In 1922, also, he scored 185 against Hampshire - with three sixes, three fives and twenty five fours -, the highest of his 21 hundreds. He achieved the double six times.
At Northampton in 1920, Fender scored a hundred in 35 minutes, still the fastest in first class cricket scored under 'normal' circumstances, in about 40-46 balls. In the same innings he added 171 with HA Peach in 42 minutes. At Lord's in 1927, he dismissed five Middlesex batsmen in seven balls.
Fender was dropped by England after 1924, but five years later made one final Test appearance, against South Africa. By now his powers were beginning to wane, and after 1930 he neither took 100 wickets nor averaged more than 30 with the bat. He finished with county cricket after the 1935 season, but played two final games for MCC against the universities the following year before retiring altogether.
He is the author of several cricket books like Defending the Ashes, The turn of the wheel, The Tests of 1930, Kissing the Rod and The ABC of Cricket, besides being the subject of a fine biography by Richard Streeton. In 1977, he was the oldest player to attend the Centenary Test at Melbourne. He was the oldest living Test player when he died on 15 June 1985 in Exeter, Devon.
Cricket: DIFFERENT WORLD, BUT THE SAME OLD SHAMBLES; OUR PLEA TO FREDDIE'S FLOPS GIVE YOUR ALL TO AVOID WHITEWASH DOWN UNDER.(Sport)
Dec 29, 2006; Byline: By ANN GRIPPER ENGLAND have not been whitewashed in Australia since 1921, when more than half the team made their Test...