Obituary: Conrad Hunte

ONLY A month after he had been a pall-bearer for his comrade-in- arms Malcolm Marshall in Barbados, the cricketer Conrad Hunte has died after suffering a heart attack. Marshall's death was an occasion of deep sadness for all West Indians but was not unexpected; the loss of Hunte, another outstanding player in an outstanding team, was a distinct shock.

He will be missed far beyond the cosy club of international cricket. He was a deeply committed Christian who believed he had a mission to work on behalf of the under- privileged and oppressed and many a young person in the Caribbean and South Africa will grieve at the news.

Hunte came from a family of nine, in the humblest surroundings in rural Barbados. Attending Alleyne Secondary School, he was clearly more the cricketer than the scholar. He first attracted attention when, at 19, he scored 137 when opening the innings for the Barbados League against the Barbados Association.

He loved to play his shots, a dangerous fault in an opener and although he was soon playing for the island, at a time when Barbados could pick up a Test batsman on any street corner, he found higher progress difficult. He made an international name in England, where he became a highly popular and successful professional with Enfield in the Lancashire League.

Like many of his predecessors experiencing English conditions, he had to tighten his defence to succeed and the improvement in technique was recognised back home. He would have toured England with West Indies in 1957 had not a telegram gone astray, so it was not until January 1958, in Bridgetown, that he made his Test debut, at 25, against Pakistan. His partner that day was Rohan Kanhai, the first of 13 who would open with him as West Indies sought to establish a regular partnership.

Not that they were short of batting: the order that day read Gary Sobers, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott, Collie Smith and Denis Atkinson. Hunte scored 142 in a total of 579-9 declared and a career was launched, spectacularly, for he went on to complete that series with an aggregate of 622 and an average of 77. Hunte went on to play in 44 Tests, scoring 3,245 runs, including eight centuries, at an average of 45.

He was a brilliant player off his legs, flicking and gliding away almost any ball that was a fraction wide. He was a fine hooker and had a well- timed off-drive, could bowl medium pace cutters and was an excellent fielder anywhere, especially in close catching positions.

He had hoped to succeed Frank Worrell as West Indies captain in 1963 and was disappointed when the Board chose the more famous and charismatic Sobers; ironically it was Hunte, in that same debut series, with a career best 260, who had occupied the other end when Sobers broke the individual Test record by scoring 365 not out in Kingston, Jamaica.

In 1963 he toured England to record an aggregate of 471, heading the averages with a figure of 58.87. In his entire first-class career he hit three double centuries, the highest being 263 for Barbados against Jamaica in 1961-62. In his 17 years as a first-class cricketer he scored 8,916 at an average of 43.92, a shade below what is the usually accepted average for anyone claiming to be a great batsman, 45.

It was entirely in character that Hunte should later apologise to Sobers and give his captain his full support for the rest of his career. In Australia, in the winter of 1960-61, he had been introduced to Moral Rearmament and devoted the rest of his life to coaching and religious work. A year ago he was knighted by the Barbados government, and only recently had been elected President of the Barbados Cricket Board. Hunte's wife Pat was American-born and was a former television presenter in Atlanta where he served as the Barbados consul- general for a spell in the 1980s. In 1997 Hunte was awarded Barbados's highest honour, the Order of St Andrew.

Much of Conrad Hunte's commitment in later years went into coaching in South Africa, where he spent seven years working mostly in the townships. He never allowed his natural sympathy for young black cricketers to influence his appreciation of the practical realities, saying: "The United Cricket Board faces two tensions, the first being the high expectation of the population who want more black players in the national team. The other problem is that although the development programme has been going on for 15 years, it takes at least three generations to produce superstars. We have to have black players at the top level but they have to be qualified to be there."

It was Hunte the coach who suggested that Brian Lara's loss of form before and during the last West Indies tour of South Africa might have been due to a decline in his eyesight: "I don't think he is seeing the ball as early as he did."

With Hunte's death following so soon after Malcolm Marshall's, sceptics will assume that the Lord's XI was short of a consistent opening bat and a brilliant opening bowler. As Peter Short, chairman of the West Indies Board during much of Hunte's career, put it: "Many people talk about Christianity. Conrad Hunte lives it."

Derek Hodgson

Conrad Cleophas Hunte, cricketer and missionary: born St Andrew's, Barbados 9 May 1932; married (three daughters); died Sydney, Australia 3 December 1999.

Arts and Entertainment
'Banksy Does New York' Film - 2014

Art Somebody is going around telling people he's Banksy - but it isn't the street artist

Arts and Entertainment
Woody Allen and Placido Domingo will work together on Puccini's Schicchi

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment
The sixteen celebrities taking part in The Jump 2015

TV

Arts and Entertainment
British author Helen Macdonald, pictured with Costa book of the year, 'H is for Hawk'
booksPanel hail Helen Macdonald's 'brilliantly written, muscular prose' in memoir of a grief-stricken daughter who became obsessed with training a goshawk
Arts and Entertainment
Tom DeLonge has announced his departure from Blink-182

music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Arts and Entertainment

Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated

Arts and Entertainment
Damian Lewis shooting a scene as Henry VIII in Wolf Hall
TV

Arts and Entertainment
A history of violence: ‘Angry, White and Proud’ looked at the rise of far-right groups

tv

An expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle

Arts and Entertainment

art

Lee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist

Arts and Entertainment

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Michael Keaton in the 1998 Beetlejuice original

film

Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TV

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

    Greece elections

    In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
    Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

    Holocaust Memorial Day

    Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
    Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

    Magnetic north

    The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
    Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

    Front National family feud?

    Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
    Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

    Pot of gold

    Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
    10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

    From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

    While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
    Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

    Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
    DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

    The inside track on France's trial of the year

    Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
    As provocative now as they ever were

    Sarah Kane season

    Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

    Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

    Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
    Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

    Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

    One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
    The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

    The enemy within

    People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

    Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
    Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

    Autumn/winter menswear 2015

    The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore