Barbados and the wider cricketing world know Desmond Haynes as a former right-handed opening batsman for the West Indies team and the famous partner of fellow Barbadian Gordon Greenidge, another legend in the sport. Haynes still remains the only West Indies batsman to score a century on his One-Day International debut.
Sitting down with Barbados TODAY Haynes shared his journey from playing cricket in Holder’s Hill, St James to becoming one of the greats.
Desmond Haynes is an Aquarian, of the zodiac sign that persons perceive to be aggressive. On the contrary, Haynes sees himself as his own person from a humble beginning for which he is thankful and appreciates. While he is outspoken, there’s never the need to belittle others because of his cricketing fame.
Being the first of four children, he was raised by his grandmother in Holder’s Hill. Around the age of six or seven Haynes was introduced to a cricket bat in a community where cricket and football thrived. He was unable to decide if he had a natural love for the sport or if it was the influence of family. Yet there was no doubt that he was a perfect match for the bat
Haynes recounted his early days of playing West Indies versus England games with cousins on the playing field or in a lane turned into a pitch between houses. He credited his toughness, confidence and competiveness to playing at a young age. The district realized his talent and even though he believed in it as well, luck brought him the chance of a lifetime.
There was a vacancy for an opening batsman to play in the One-Day International against Australia at the Recreation Ground in Antigua in 1978. While sitting in a hotel room, Haynes remembered the swarm of nerves to hit him when he heard his name. “Wow, I’m actually going to be playing cricket for the West Indies” were his words in response to landing a spot in the 12-member squad.
However, a very strange feeling took over, resulting in a lack of sleep that night despite the happiness his family felt. The strange feeling was linked to the irony of watching a match between the West Indies and Australia the year before.
During his first game, Haynes remembered spectators running onto the field showering him with Eastern Caribbean money after hitting his first century. He admitted that even if there was no money involved, his cricket-oriented childhood was enough to keep him playing.
Giving insight into his partnership with Greenidge he noted that they played well together. Greenidge was more serious, private and organized, while Haynes was light-hearted; he loved to laugh and interact with fans.
Their friendship extended beyond the pitch with Haynes having nothing but respect for Greenidge.
One number will always be memorable for him, and it is 92. Reflecting on days spent in the public library, he read for hours about cricket matches in the 1890s. His fascination with the home of cricket, Lord’s Cricket Ground made the first time he played there even more surreal. He scored 92 not out on both days of the game. Several weeks later his grandmother passed at the age of 92.
“I owe everything that I have achieved in life to cricket,” he asserted. Having to forgo higher levels of education, Haynes said that he learnt through touring different countries how the game was played.
Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Everton Weekes, Charles Griffith and Seymour Nurse were among his favourite players. “There is life after cricket” was one word of advice from Griffith he will never forget. It made him recognize that his actions on and off the field impacted on fans.
Later in his career, there were moments of possibly throwing in the bat. At the time of conflict with the West Indies Cricket Board, his mother was dying of cancer making an already tough time more painful. He felt like retiring a few times but is grateful for the advice against such a hasty decision.
“Golf, golf, golf,” was the summary he gave to how his retirement has been mainly spent. As a young boy he caddied for Sandy Lane and eventually grew to love the sport, even playing with Sir Garry Sobers.
Haynes is the chairman of Cricket Legends and showed Barbados TODAY around the museum, which he hopes will attract more Barbadians. The legends have given some of their memorabilia to the museum.
He also began the Desmond Haynes Fund with Royal Westmoreland where young cricketers are giving the opportunity to attend university through funds from an annual golf tournament.
The golden anniversary of independence has made Haynes realize that Barbadians are blessed to be part of a 166 square mile island that has been punching above its weight for 50 years.
“I just love Barbados,” he said, pointing out that Barbados has produced outstanding sportsmen and in comparison to other islands, the education system and infrastructure should be appreciated.
He suggested that over the next 50 years the cricket legends should be acknowledged for their part in the country’s development.
But his interests go beyond cricket. Having tried at the calypso artform, Haynes suggested that artistes were not being compensated enough for their hard work during Crop Over.
Haynes hoped that education about the game he loves would be taught to young children. Leaving a word of advice to up and coming Barbadian cricketers he said: “Nothing beats hard work, you must always try to be as good as you can be.”
Haynes played for the West Indies between 1978 and 1994 scoring 7, 487 runs in 116 Tests with 18 centuries at an average of 42.29, as well as 8, 648 One-day International runs in 238 matches with 17 centuries at an average of 41.37. Haynes scored a total of 61 first-class centuries and 138 fifties.