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Late Pat Rousseau hailed as passionate cricket lover

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, April 18, 2019

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Contemporaries of the late Patrick “Pat” Rousseau have described him as a passionate cricket lover with an astute legal and business mind.

Jamaican Rousseau, who died on Tuesday at age 85 after prolonged illness, was president of West Indies Cricket Board between 1996 and 2001.

“Patrick Rousseau, he and I first went to Wolmer's [Boys' School] on the same day in January 1944. I had a wonderful personal friendship with Pat ever since then,” said former West Indies and Jamaica wicketkeeper John “Jackie” Hendriks yesterday regarding their 75-year link.

“Pat was a highly intelligent man, one of our leading lawyers, and I'm happy to have had a relationship with him for these many, many years. It's a sad, sad day for me to learn of his passing. I always had Pat to fall back on whenever anything was bothering me. It's a terrible loss for me, as I can imagine for many other people,” Hendriks, 85, told the Jamaica Observer.

“Pat was involved in West Indies cricket — I thought one of the very fine presidents we had. His emphasis was on cricket and on the players. I think he cut his presidency too short by resigning… I don't think we [West Indies] have recovered since then,” he continued.

Rousseau, born January 4, 1934, was well known in the legal field for his decades-long work at the law firm Myers, Fletcher and Gordon, where he was a senior partner.

During his time in charge of regional cricket the board landed a ground-breaking international television deal with Sky and earned the right to host the 2007 Cricket World Cup.

Cricket followers will recall Rousseau's response in flying to London to avert the withdrawal of services by West Indies cricketers who were set to go on tour of South Africa in 1998.

He was also co-founder of Caribbean sports network SportsMax.

In the 1970s Rousseau was a central member of a negotiating team that secured better terms for Jamaica in the bauxite alumina industry and he was recognised with the Order of Jamaica for his contribution to nation-building.

Hendriks, a standout player in his heyday in the 1960s and considered one of the region's best-ever wicketkeepers, said he had only recently sat down with Rousseau and the late renowned journalist Tony Becca in a social setting.

“I last saw Pat some weeks ago when he, Tony Becca, and I had lunch at the Courtleigh Hotel. Both of them have gone, and it's been a very sad period for me. I called Mrs Rousseau to give her my deepest sympathies. I wish his family all the very best; God bless them,” he said.

Former regional team batsman Easton McMorris, 84, expressed deep respect and admiration for Rousseau.

“It was obvious from the brief sojourn as board president that he was on sound footing to revolutionise the cricket board. Pat was a wordsmith; no wonder he was a lawyer. You barely could get in a word with him, he was always making sense. He was very astute, a good legal brain. He had great ideas for West Indies cricket,” McMorris told the Observer.

Don Wehby, the GraceKennedy Group chief executive officer, was sad at the passing of an individual he saw as mentor, lawyer, businessman, cricket administrator, and a major player in the horse racing industry.

“It was with great sadness that I learnt this morning that my friend and mentor for many years, Mr Pat Rousseau, has passed. He was a great sounding board, not only in business but when I served on the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). So I want to express my sincere condolence… he was truly a great Jamaican icon. He was always very funny, we share a love for horses — he was a breeder,” Wehby told journalists yesterday.

A statement from newly elected Cricket West Indies President Ricky Skerritt read: “Pat was a strong man, always very focused and determined. He was a sharp legal and business mind, and it was reflected during his time in charge of the organisation between 1996 and 2001.

“Pat was also the driving force behind the incorporation of the WICB in November 1998 — starting the transformation of the organisation into becoming a more corporate operation — and the permanent relocation of the corporate headquarters to Antigua.”

Wavell Hinds, West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) president and chief executive officer, said: “I pray for comfort and strength for Mr Rousseau's family at this time. Like many others, I am proud of Mr Rousseau's several achievements over the years. On behalf of the executive, management and staff of WIPA, I extend condolence to his family and friends. We celebrate Mr Rousseau's invaluable contribution to Jamaica, to the people of the West Indies, and to West Indies cricket.”

Wilford “Billy” Heaven, president of the Jamaica Cricket Association, echoed sentiments that Rousseau's passing has left a huge void in West Indies cricket.

“It's a sad day for cricket. We have had discussions on legal aspects; he advised me a lot of times on how to proceed on certain matters. He was an ardent supporter of cricket — take out his administrative involvement in cricket. He will be dearly missed and we wish his family and friends all the best,” said Heaven.

And Minister of Sport Olivia Grange has described the former West Indies Cricket Board president as one of the “greatest administrators” of the game.

She added: “Much like our great players, Pat Rousseau was a great figure in West Indies cricket and he will be remembered as one of the greatest administrators of the game...Pat Rousseau served well and made a considerable difference in the administration of cricket in the West Indies.

“I offer sincerest condolence to his family and to the cricket fraternity in Jamaica and throughout the region at this time.”

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