Renford Pinnock — a hero of Jamaica cricket

Saturday, November 09, 2019

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Many of a younger generation may not realise that West Indies cricket commanded great respect, long before the great teams of the late 1970s to early 90s.

In the years leading up to the Second World War, legendary batsman Mr George Headley was the flag bearer of West Indies cricket.

Immediately after the World War ended in 1945an exciting crop of talented players emerged, even as Caribbean territories of the British Empire developed a vigorous nationalistic spirit which helped to inspire the political Independence movement.

Led by the three Ws Messrs Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell and Clyde Walcott and young, skilful spinners Messrs Alf Valentine and “Sonny” Ramadhin, West Indies gained a monumental, watershed series victory over England in that country in 1950.

It seemed after that West Indies batting talent was limitless. Regardless of whether they won or lost through the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s, admirable batting was much to the fore.

It's in that context that the career of Mr Renford Pinnock, who died recently at age 82, should be seen. Today, it seems unimaginable that a cricketer of Mr Pinnock's talent and achievements was never selected to a West Indies team.

Hence the comment from Mr Ephraim McLeod who owes much to the guidance of Mr Pinnock: “I'm surprised he didn't play for West Indies...If he was playing cricket now he would be one of the top batsmen in the world...”.

Indeed.

Mr Pinnock will always be remembered as one of the best never to have played for the West Indies.

He wasn't just a batsman who averaged a shade over 40, scoring 2,662 runs with six centuries in 44 first class matches — Mr Pinnock was also an outstanding wicketkeeper.

Cricket lovers from the 60s and 70s remember him as a figure of neatness and precise dress, long-sleeved shirt buttoned at the wrist nothing it seemed out of place.

A stylish, elegant batsman, with sound defence and shots all around the wicket, he also loved a challenge. He relished facing the powerful Barbados bowling attacks of the period, especially on their home turf at Kensington Oval.

On first class début in 1964 at Kensington, he stroked 68 and 106 against extreme pace as Jamaica fought their way to a draw.

Five years later he would make his highest score, 175, also against Barbados at Kensington Oval.

His teammates remember Mr Pinnock as a gentleman and the ideal team man, always ready with a pun or two which would leave those around him in stitches and able to recover high spirits, even at their lowest point.

He made his opponents laugh too. The story is told of Mr Pinnock seeing off the great Barbadian fast bowlers Messrs Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith. Visibly relaxed, Mr Pinnock, no doubt expecting a bowler of gentler pace, faced up to Mr Richard Edwards. The story goes that when the first delivery whizzed past his nose, Mr Pinnock took a short walk and exclaimed: “Rahtid, everybody fast!”

Mr Pinnock gained acclaim for his role in helping to mentor young players, including Mr Lawrence Rowe, later to become an outstanding West Indies batsman.

That mentoring continued after his playing days as coach, umpire and stalwart of the game for St Catherine and Jamaica cricket.

Mr Pinnock will be terribly missed.


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