Renford Pinnock described as wonderful cricketer, team man, mentor and humouristFriday, November 29, 2019
BY GARFIELD MYERS
HIS record bears eloquent testimony to his outstanding talent as batsman and wicketkeeper.
But those who captained the late Renford Pinnock during his time as a Jamaica cricketer in the 1960s and early 70s remember him for far more than talent.
They also speak of the ultimate “team man” with a warm personality, always willing to help, and blessed with a priceless ability to make others laugh; to lift spirits even at the worst of times.
Crucially, Jackie Hendriks, Easton McMorris, and Maurice Foster all agree that Pinnock was very unfortunate not to have played for the West Indies.
He was, they say, among the best never to have represented the regional team.
A stylish, right-handed middle-order batsman, good enough to have averaged over 40 in first-class cricket, and neat, accomplished wicketkeeper, Pinnock died on November 1 after a long illness. He was 82 years old.
A thanksgiving service is set for tomorrow at 10:00 am at Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW) headquarters, 38 Jobs Lane, Spanish Town. Interment will take place at Dovecot Memorial Park.
In a first-class career spanning nine years (1964-73) Pinnock scored 2662 runs with six centuries for an average of 40.33.
Hendriks, the premier West Indies wicketkeeper of the 1960s, who was Jamaica captain and wicketkeeper when Pinnock made his first class debut, recalls a “very fine player”.
Said Hendriks: “I would class him as a very careful batsman, who also took care of the loose balls. He scored freely all around the wicket, against pace and spin, and he had a good defence.”
Hendriks and his Jamaica team got first-hand experience of Pinnock's talent in the latter's debut regional first-class game against mighty Barbados, led by the feared fast bowlers Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith at Kensington Oval.
Walking to the batting crease in the first innings with Jamaica struggling at 24 for two, the 26-year-old Pinnock stroked 68 as Jamaica eventually reached 215.
In the second innings with backs against the wall at 34-2, Pinnock hit a defiant 106 to help Jamaica battle to a draw.
That performance gained Pinnock region-wide respect, more especially in Barbados.
Pinnock's appetite for Barbadian bowling on their home turf didn't end there. In 1967 he stroked 62 and 77 at Kensington against a Bajan attack without Hall and Griffith, but including the pacy, left-arm swing of Garfield Sobers and a hostile Richard Edwards. And in 1969, he made his highest score, 175, also against Barbados at Kensington.
“He [Pinnock] was fearless,” explained Hendriks, who also described him as a “splendid” wicketkeeper. As it was, Hendriks's presence as the senior gloveman meant Pinnock had limited opportunities to keep wicket for Jamaica.
Even with that consideration, Hendriks believes Pinnock should have been chosen as his deputy on tour of Australia in 1968. Instead, the West Indies selectors opted for Vincentian wicketkeeper Michael Findlay, who though not as gifted with the bat, had youth on his side.
“I always thought he [Pinnock] was very unlucky not to have gone on tour of Australia in 68,” said Hendriks.
McMorris, who took over from Hendriks as Jamaica captain in the latter 60s, remembers Pinnock as a batsman who was “quick on his feet”, wristy, able to “pick up the line of the ball very quickly” and innovative.
A sound, opening batsman who played 13 Tests for the West Indies, boasting a first-class average of 42.18 with an aggregate 5,906 runs, McMorris insists that Pinnock was the first batsman he ever saw leave the ball by playing inside the line.
“When we saw him doing it first, we thought he was playing and missing, everybody thought so, and then we came to realise that he was watching the line of the ball and playing inside it.
“Over time I would see other people doing it, but for me 'Pinnie' was the first. I don't know where Pinnie got it from, but it seems to me that he invented that leave alone ... until he did it, I never saw it,” said McMorris.
He too, believes Pinnock got a raw deal from West Indies selectors of the day.
“Especially with his wicketkeeping, to go with his batting, 'Pinnie' should have been a sure pick for the West Indies on tours,” said McMorris.
Foster, who became Jamaica captain in 1973 believes insularity and a decided preference for cricketers from Barbados were the real reasons Pinnock was overlooked by the regional selectors.
“There was a bias towards Bajans,” insisted Foster, who played 14 Tests for the West Indies, and is widely considered among Jamaica's more successful batsmen with a first-class average of 45.17 to go with 6,731 runs.
The three former Jamaica captains say Pinnock was a happy individual with a ready wit and strong sense of humour.
“He was a sterling team man ... always happy, always with a pun or two, he was a great 'punner',” said Hendriks with a laugh, “when you were down, Pinnie was always able to lift the spirits”.
McMorris credits Pinnock with helping to integrate young players who entered the Jamaica team in the late 1960s and early 70s, including the batting stylist Lawrence Rowe and the great fast bowler Michael Holding.
“He was instrumental...” said McMorris.
Foster laughingly recalled that Pinnock was always equipped to provide for his team mates. “Pinnie always had needle, thread, zip, thimble, buttons for anyone who needed help,” said Foster.
Long before cricketers placed great emphasis on fitness, Pinnock would go everywhere with his skipping rope, said Foster.
“Pinnie would be skipping when everybody else gone to bed,” said Foster.
Through it all, Pinnock always found the lighter side of any discussion, to trigger laughter.
After one season, when Pinnock had done particularly well with the bat, his teammates told him he was a certain pick for a West Indies team to go on tour.
Pinnock promptly replied: “If they don't select me, I won't go!”
He also made his opponents laugh. The story goes that in his memorable debut against Barbados, Pinnock was relieved to have seen off the aggression of Hall and Griffith.
He settled down to face new bowler Edwards, expecting deliveries of gentler pace. However, when the first delivery whizzed past his nose, Pinnock is said to have taken a short walk and exclaimed: “Rahtid, everybody fast!”
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