Saluting The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes
By Keith Holder
Bridgetown, Barbados, December 12 – (www.barbadoscricket.org) – In a relatively short period of just under six weeks, one of the most famous Barbados, West Indies and indeed world cricketers, Desmond Leo Haynes, has received two very prestigious awards.
On October 23, he joined his fellow former long-standing and internationally renowned opening batting partner Sir Gordon Greenidge and fast bowling great and ex-West Indies teammate, Sir Andy Roberts of Antigua, in receiving Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from the University of West Indies (UWI).
They all formed part of the formidable West Indies team, which dominated world cricket in the 1970s and 1980s. Sir Andy and Sir Gordon were members of the first two World Cup winning teams under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd (now Sir Clive) in 1975 and 1979 in England, while Haynes was a member of the 1979 side.
Then on November 30 as Barbados officially transitioned to the world’s newest republic, the affable 65-year-old Haynes, who during his illustrious cricketing career wore a gold pendant, which declared “Live, Love, Laugh” was conferred with the country’s highest national honour.
Haynes was among the list of awardees for the Order of Freedom of Barbados medal, marking the occasion of this 166-square-mile island’s 55th anniversary political independence from Britain.
Now known as The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes, his Facebook page has been flooded with hundreds of congratulatory messages from around the world.
“Expressing my thanks and appreciation to the Government of Barbados for honouring me with ‘The Order of Freedom of Barbados Award – (FB) during the historic inaugural Barbados Independence/Republic Ceremony on November 30th and being conferred with the island’s new highest recognition title – The Most Honourable – formerly Knight of St. Andrew – presented by Barbados’ first President, The Most Honourable Dame Sandra Mason, in recognition of my contribution to sports, service to Barbados and the Caribbean region,” Haynes wrote on his Facebook page.
“This will certainly be noted as a significant historical moment for me. My thoughts are of my godmother, grandmother and Mum, as I wish they would have able to witness this occasion. I am hoping they would haven filled with pride, as I owe much to them and many others in my Holder’s Hill Community.
“Thanks to all of my fans for your well-wishes, thanks to friends and family who have helped and supported me and thanks to my kids and my lovely wife (Elen) for their continued love and support,” he stated.
Personally, I offered heartiest congratulations to The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes at dawn on December 1, while enduring another painful period of watching and doing radio commentaries for Caribbean stations from a large television screen in a studio (from midnight until 8 a.m.) on yet another woeful West Indies performance in the second and final Test against Sri Lanka in Galle, as they were heading to another inevitable defeat.
At the time, I kept telling myself that West Indies badly required the services of The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes as the head coach instead of paying two persons – head coach Phil Simmons and batting coach Monty Desai, whose facial expressions constantly painted a picture of doom and depression.
But there is a time and place for everything.
Recognising the hundreds of congratulatory messages Haynes has been receiving on Facebook and no doubt by way of phone calls, emails, WhatsApp etc, I asked him a couple questions, which only required me to share his answers.
“Yes, I am still being congratulated from around the world,” he said.
“To the young sports persons from Holder’s Hill, when they research my journey they would think that if I could make it, there is plenty of hope for them.
“I am always willing to help Barbados and West Indies cricket. I got plenty of help.”
Among those offering congratulations were Haynes’ last West Indies captain, Sir Richie Richardson, who said: “Many congratulations, Joe Louis”.
The list of former international cricketers showering praise include Mike Procter (South Africa), Jeff Thomson (Australia), Thelston Payne, Philo Wallace (West Indies), Mark Alleyne (England), Mpumelelo “Pommie” Mbangwa (Zimbabwe), Asanka Gurusinha (Sri Lanka), as well as the likes of David Graveney (former chairman of England Test selectors) and ex-top golfer Gary Palmer of South Africa.
Lest we forget, Haynes was also inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame in June this year, as one of the special inductees to mark the inaugural edition of the ICC World Test Championship final.
I have always counted myself fortunate in following Haynes’ cricketing career closely from the mid-1970s when he was at national Under-19 trials and played for the Barbados Youth team in the regional Championship under the captaincy of the current Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) vice-president and one of his long-standing friends, Calvin Hope.
And I do feel honoured to have interviewed Haynes on many occasions. Arguably, one my most memorable and rewarding interviews dates back to 1989 (April) when as a sports reporter at The Nation newspaper, he was featured in the now defunct New Bajan magazine, edited by Glyne Murray, who gave me the special assignment.
That feature under the headline “Hero Haynes” – Cricketing wonder talks about his life – is carried in today’s edition of Barbados Today.
So let me proceed to have my say on The Most Honourable Desmond Haynes.
Haynes played in 116 Tests, scoring 7 487 runs including 18 centuries and 39 half-centuries at an average of 42.29. His highest score was 184.
With Greenidge, Haynes featured in 16 century-stands, four of them in excess of 200. They are arguably the most successful opening batting pair in the history of West Indies and global cricket.
At Kensington Oval, their names stand out on the Greenidge & Haynes stand.
Haynes finished his One-Day International career with an aggregate of 8 648 runs at an average of 41.37 in 238 matches. He hit 17 centuries and 57 fifties with a best of 152 not out. At one time he was the world’s highest run-scorer in One-Day Internationals.
Haynes is also one of the few players to have scored a century on his ODI debut.
In his first-class career of 376 matches, he amassed 26 030 runs with 61 centuries and 138 half-centuries – his highest score was an unbeaten 255 – at an average of 45.90.
And in 419 List A matches, he made 15 651 runs (ave: 42.07), slamming 28 hundreds and 110 fifties.
Always a pugnacious opening batsman, Haynes was nurtured in Holder’s Hill, a village in the western Barbados parish of St. James known for producing many cricketers who played for the island and several for West Indies.
Born February 15, 1956, Haynes received his primary school education at St. John The Baptist before going on the Barbados Academy and Federal High Schools, all now defunct.
Once he got into the West Indies team, he was content to play second fiddle to Greenidge, but eventually blossomed into his natural game.
Haynes boasts of the world record of carrying his bat through an innings in Tests three times and is the only player to bat through both innings of a Test – against New Zealand at Dunedin in 1980.
After captaining the West Indies on tour to Pakistan in 1990-91 in the absence of an ill Vivian Richards (now Sir Vivian), he soon had the disappointment of being overlooked for the job in preference to Richie Richardson when Richards retired after the 1991 tour to England.
Yet, Haynes continued to give of his best but he had a major fall-out with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB), now renamed Cricket West Indies (CWI) in 1995 after they ruled that he was ineligible to play in the home series against Australia because he had not taken part fully in the regional first-class season due to a contract with Western Province in South Africa, along with family commitments.
Haynes also played for Middlesex in the English county championship.
From a regional perspective, I want to state emphatically that covering the 1991 Red Stripe Cup first-class Championship was sweet, sweet, sweet.
Barbados not only captured the title by a very wide margin – they virtually doubled second-placed Trinidad & Tobago – but Haynes as the captain was brilliant both on and off the field.
In fact, of Barbados’ record 23 titles since 1966 when the regional first-class Tournament was first sponsored (Shell Shield), the margin of success by Haynes’ team in relation to the number of points over the runners-up is the widest ever.
Barbados won four of the five matches, ending on 72 points. Trinidad & Tobago gained 37, Guyana 36, Leeward Islands 36, Jamaica 20 and Windward Islands 12.
Nicknamed “Joe Louis” after the late, great American boxer, Haynes brought a unique freshness from the start of the 1991 season by warmly embracing the media for a press conference after each day’s play. It was a boss move.
And he silenced his critics of the previous season, especially one radio commentator, who had given him nought out of ten for captaincy.
As if to say “tek dat”, Haynes “punched” his way with the bat in compelling style.
Haynes was brutal at the crease, amassing 654 runs including four centuries at a remarkable average of 109.00.
He was awarded the Silver Crown of Merit by the Barbados Government on Independence Day in 1989.
In retirement, Haynes became the chairman of the Barbados senior selection panel and also re-joined his partnership with Greenidge in working for Gems of Barbados.
Haynes was elected vice-president of the BCA in a keenly contested election in 2005, as he upstaged his former highly successful Barbados captain and West Indies leg-spinning all-rounder David Holford. He was also elected as a WICB director at the same meeting.
Haynes was the Barbados team manager for the Caribbean Twenty20 Tournament in 2010. He was the West Indies batting consultant for the home series against Pakistan and India the following year.
Always a favourite at the once all-White Carlton Cricket Club in Black Rock, St. Michael, he became president and also had the honour of the ground being renamed the Desmond Haynes Oval.
Haynes is a former Barbados Government Senator and also served as Chairman of the National Sports Council and secretary of the West Indies Players Association.
His name is also attached to the Pavilion in Holder’s Hill.
He boasts as well of setting up the Desmond Haynes Foundation with events including a Golf Invitational, Coaching and Membership Programmes and Promotion and Product Marketing.
“In my life I got a lot of help and decided to start the Desmond Haynes Foundation, where I looked to raise some money to help young cricketers to further their education because I want them to have that mix with education and sport,” he said.
Let’s all salute The Most Honourable Desmond Leo Haynes.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and International cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (rebranded Elite in 2012) Championship for four decades and provides statistics and stories for the BCA website (www.barbadoscricket.org). Email: Keithfholder@gmail.com