Memory Lane 1989: Hero Haynes – Cricketing wonder talks about his life

By Keith Holder

Bridgetown, Barbados, December 12 – ( – On November 30, cricketing great Desmond Leo Haynes, was among the list of awardees for the Order of Freedom of Barbados medal, marking the occasion of this island’s 55th anniversary political independence from Britain.

The 65-year-old former Barbados and West Indies captain was conferred with the country’s highest national honour, and is now known as The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes.

Also on October 23, Haynes joined his fellow former long-standing and internationally renowned opening batting partner, Sir Gordon Greenidge, as well as fast bowling great and ex-teammate, Sir Andy Roberts of Antigua, in receiving Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of West Indies (UWI).

Thirty-two years ago (April 1989) Haynes was featured in the now defunct, The New Bajan magazine.

He had won the Player Of The Match award for a splendid, unbeaten century (117 off 132 balls, 8 fours, 5 sixes) in the first One-Day International against India at Kensington Oval on March 7 (West Indies scored 248 for four off 48 overs, and won by 50 runs) after completing an outstanding tour of Australia, topping the batting aggregates and averages in both Test and one-day matches.

For his success in Australia, he was voted “International Cricketer of the Year”, earning an Aus$52 000 Audi car.

And having received a moving hero’s welcome at Grantley Adams International Airport on returning home, Haynes wanted to repay Barbadians for their warm welcome.

That feature in The New Bajan, written by Keith Holder, under the headline: Hero Haynes – Cricketing wonder talks about his life – is repeated here on the BCA website with pleasure as a tribute and congratulations to Haynes on his two most recent awards.

FEATURE (NB: The New Bajan, April 1989)

Desmond Haynes was relaxing in the West Indies team’s dressing room at Kensington Oval, wrapped in a towel and sipping a beer.

His look was one of joy and understandably so.

Half an hour earlier, he had won the coveted Man Of The Match award for a fine, unbeaten century (117) in the first One-Day International against India, laying the foundation for his team’s comfortable 50-run victory.

Apart from match-winning value, there was something special about that century.

He had recently completed an outstanding tour of Australia, topping the batting aggregates and averages in both Test and one-day matches and he was intent on maintaining that form before his home crowd.

For his success in Australia, he was voted “International Cricketer of the Year”, earning an Aus$52 000 Audi car.

Having received a moving hero’s welcome at Grantley Adams International Airport on returning home, Haynes wanted to repay Barbadians for their warm welcome.

The century – his 13th in One-Day Internationals and the most by a West Indian – was laced with five sixes and eight fours. He loved making it and the crowd loved seeing it too.

“I was thrilled to make a hundred in Barbados again,” Haynes said. “After coming home from Australia where everybody has been talking about me and so forth, it’s good to keep doing it because if you don’t, a lot of people are going to say – well Australia, he’s gone now.”

That’s just the nature of the usually jovial Haynes, whose roots are in Holder’s Hill, St. James, where he was born 33 years ago. Aptly, his gold pendant declares: “Live, Love, Laugh”.

Haynes was quick to thank the people of Holder’s Hill for organising the welcome, which included a motorcade.

“It was a great feeling. That is something you never thought would have happened to yourself. I never even dreamt about anyone having a motorcade for me, or having so many people turn up to see me at the airport. That was totally strange. It was so emotional that I had to be very positive within myself so that I wouldn’t cry, though I was very close to tears on many occasions. The way I was treated I figured I was probably getting knighted or something.

“I would like to thank everybody for the way they treated me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I don’t know how to thank them. I felt they didn’t have to do it. It was fantastic and something that made me feel very proud.”

It’s no secret that Haynes likes to be among people, but he believes he must command their respect as an individual and not as a famous cricketer.

“I always have time for other people because I feel that when you are a public figure, you are judged by the amount of people around you. If you look decent and dress properly, people are going to say, ‘look Desmond dresses nicely’.

“If you behave badly or you are quick to curse somebody, then they are going to say that you are a good cricketer, but you have a very bad attitude.

“When you look at a cricketer’s life, it’s not all that long. You spend longer days when you are finished with the game. You have kids and a family and you have to tell yourself that one of your family might need a job and you may be the one telling John Browne, ‘can you employ my cousin or my son?’

“Then they will look back at Desmond Haynes the cricketer. But they will also look at Desmond Haynes off the field. There’s a lot to life after cricket. That’s my philosophy. I want to be respected after my cricketing days. I just don’t want people to say, ‘well I will do it for you because you are Desmond Haynes the cricketer.’ I want them to say I will do it because you are Desmond Haynes the person. That means a lot to me.”

Haynes, an unmarried father of two children, still lives with his mother Jean Haynes at Thorpes Terrace, St. James. His family is a closely-knit one. He has two younger brothers, Ricky and Mark, neither of whom is a cricketer.

But Haynes says: “If you want a DJ, check Ricky, if you want an electrician, check Mark.”

Haynes credits his deceased grandmother, Irene Haynes, for the development of his early life.

“She was the main figure because she liked me so much that she would look after me while my mother worked.”

Haynes is not inclined to discuss his personal relationships.

“I have lots of female friends, but I try to keep my personal life as private as possible. I don’t think it is fair for the public to know what I am doing. Although I am a good mixer, I don’t feel it is right for me to go about publicising. When I get married, everybody will know because you really can’t hide those things.”

Having worked in the hotel industry, Haynes is keen on returning there at the end of his cricketing career.

“I would like to get involved in hotel management since I like the idea of meeting people. I like the hotel scene because it means a lot to Barbados which gets very many tourists.”

One of his goals is to build an indoor cricket school for youngsters in the St. James parish, for which he is hoping to get government’s support.

“This is something I would really like to do, kind of making it my contribution to the area. It would help youngsters to have a game of cricket and keep them off the streets and away from drugs.

“If I can get the school, I will be a very happy man because I would be able to sit back after my playing days and see what sort of community service I have done. I know it’s going to be hard, but as they say, the longest distance is only one step away and I am willing to take the first step to get that school so as to assist the St. James people.”

Haynes, who already drives a Volvo, hopes to sell the equally top-of-the-line Audi because: “The value of the car in Australia is so high, that if I get the right price it could be more beneficial for me to sell it, seeing I have to put a third of the money in the kitty for the rest of the team. I hope to get a very good car in England and bring it home.”

Haynes is a hero in his home district and surrounding areas and enjoys hobbies of golf and tennis.

“When I do badly, guys in my area tell me ‘you are batting badly.’ They respect me a lot, but it is a togetherness. They can tell me anything and I can tell them anything. I can go to the shop and I don’t have to buy them drinks. They buy more drinks for me because they think I am tight with money.

“I have a next door neighbour, Exley Ellcock. I go by his house and sit down in the chair, lie on the floor, drop to sleep and then go home. It is unbelievable, but the guys in the area have been very nice to me. It is not to say that I am their king or anything like that. They just appreciate what I am doing and I appreciate that as well because they respect me.”

Haynes referred to an instance when he went to hire a car after returning from Australia.

“I went to Sunset Crest to hire a car and Bill Hoad gave me a car to drive free for a week. That was great. He said ‘I think you have done exceptionally well and you can have the car for a week. I don’t want you to pay’.”

Where the game is concerned, he is not happy that nowadays, aspiring Barbadian cricketers do not spend enough time discussing cricket with senior players.

“People are saying that youngsters should be picked for Barbados. I agree they should be given a chance, but they have got to prove that they want to play. They have got to be hungry. You have got a lot of youngsters who, from the time a day’s play is over, they are off to movies and their girlfriends. They don’t sit around and talk cricket.

“You just can’t finish a match and run off. I remember going to play for Carlton and being driven around after a day’s play by Steve Hinkson (former Carlton and Barbados player). We would go to Wanderers and sit and talk cricket until about 11 p.m. Richard “Prof” Edwards (former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler) is a great example of a guy entertaining people. That’s how you learn. The way he was talking, you start telling yourself you want to play for the West Indies. For example, you hear about Australia and it’s so exciting. You feel cricket must be good the way he is talking, even if he is exaggerating a bit.”

According to Haynes, his best Test innings was at Sydney on the last tour when he made 143 on a turning pitch.

“I don’t think I have ever played better in any kind of cricket. The ball was turning so much that it got to a stage where it made bowling difficult because the bowlers had to pitch the ball a lot wider to get it turn back, even if they wanted to bowl you. I told myself that I would take all the chances and hit the bad balls for fours or sixes. I think the reason for my success is that I did not miss one bad ball in that innings.”

Desmond Leo Haynes was born February 15, 1956. Holder’s Hill is renowned for producing many outstanding Barbadian club cricketers, and Haynes was into the game at a very early age.

He was first noticed in the Barbados Cricket League (BCL), playing for St. John The Baptist and Melbourne.

Haynes won his place in the Barbados and West Indies teams as an aggressive stroke-player, but has developed a much cooler head.

As a batsman and wicketkeeper for the Federal High School and his BCL teams, he was chosen for the Barbados Youth Team in the mid 1970s, benefitting from the exposure and coaching of one of his early idols, former Test batsman, Seymour Nurse.

Haynes made his first-class debut for Barbados in the 1977 Shell Shield Championship, but for a lucky chance he might have quickly faded into obscurity.

Having not shone in two matches, he was dropped for Barbados’ match against the touring Pakistanis late in the season, only to regain his place after Gordon Greenidge’s last minute withdrawal from the team. Haynes seized the opportunity, scored a brilliant 136 with 20 fours, and never looked back.

That one innings – and the retirement from Test cricket of Guyanese left-hander, Roy Fredericks – presented him with the opening to surge even further ahead.

When Australia came to the region in 1978, the West Indies selected Haynes, Faoud Bacchus and Richard Austin for the first One-Day International team, a clear trial for Greenidge’s new partner.

Haynes showed them he would be THE man, hitting a superb 148 off 136 balls. He has been Greenidge’s partner ever since, opening for more than 70 of Gordon’s 81 Tests – the most successful opening partnership in Test history.

Haynes’ Test career was broken only by the 1978-79 Kerry Packer World Series phase.

Haynes modestly credits Greenidge for much of his success.

“I would be the first to admit that I have learned a lot from him. He has done a lot for my batting in the sense that I am a copier. Gordon has very good technique. I enjoy batting with him. It’s not that I am trying to outshine him at anytime. I am content to play second fiddle. When you are contented to do that, you learn lots more.”

And what is the feeling like in the West Indies team?

“We have a very good relationship. I cannot remember hearing anybody using bitter remarks towards anybody else. You get your little picks, verbal fights, especially before a Test match when everybody is edgy, highly competitive, wanting to do well.

“We also have a good selection panel. The system for the last 10 to 12 years has been very consistent. They have given young players a chance and I think that’s one of the main reasons why we have been so successful.”

Haynes’ present aim is to score 7 000 Test runs. Before the 1989 series against India, he had amassed 5 060 runs at an average of 41.13, and hit 11 centuries, the highest score being 184 against England at Lord’s in 1984.

Once he maintains his dominant form, the figure cannot be too far away, a richly deserving attainment.

At the end of the Indian series Haynes is to play professional English County Championship cricket with Middlesex. He previously had only played professional League cricket in England.

“I am very keen about it. I am willing to give it my best shot,” he said.

If he continues his life-long quest for excellence there, few doubt that this “best shot” with Middlesex will earn him other records and above all win him the affection and respect he enjoys in Holder’s Hill and Barbados, quite a feat since “a prophet is not without honour, save in his own country”.