My First Test: Haynes hammered ball from the start (30 April 1999)

30 April 1999

My First Test: Haynes hammered ball from the start

Philip Spooner

Self-confidence and self-belief can take you a long way. Ask Desmond Haynes.

These attributes took him to the top of the cricketing world, and helped make him one of the greatest opening batsmen ever.

For Haynes, it all started at the age of 22 during the first Test of the 1978 home series against Australia, at Queen's Park Oval, Trinidad.

A lot of his confidence stemmed from his superb debut innings, a run-a-ball 148 in the previous One-Day International in Antigua and a great deal of support from his friends and fans in Holder's Hill, St. James.

"Honestly, I felt great to be there (in a Test match)," he said. "I was very happy to be playing; the dream become reality.

"As a youngster I had clippings from the newspapers of the players stuck up on my bedroom door with clammy-cherry," Haynes said with his trademark laugh. "I used to look at them before I went to bed at night, and then here I was in the midst. It was a fantastic occasion."

He said, however, he was not overawed and felt as though he belonged in the team.

The match signalled the Test match beginning of the great opening combination of Gordon Greenidge and Haynes. In their first partnership, the Barbadian pair added 87, which was just three fewer than Australia made in their first innings.

Haynes, known back them as "The Hammer", plundered 61, as the West Indies amassed 405, thanks to a knock of 127 from Alvin Kallicharran. Australia could only put together 209 in the second innings and the West Indies won by an innings and 106 runs on the third day.

Haynes said he had admired Greenidge from long before their association started and always saw himself as the student being guided by the master.

"I always looked up to him and tried to see how I could emulate him and learn from him. He was a seasoned campaigner and I tried to see how much experience I could get."

"I was in the 20s, batting with Greenidge, and he came down and said: 'We don't have a lot of time left today and it would be a good idea if you could see it through without trying too much'.

"Obviously, for someone like me who was young, inexperienced and liked playing my shots, I figured I would try and get as many as I could, because I was not sure about the next day," Haynes said.

"I got about 22 out of an over from Thommo (Jeff Thomson) and Greenidge came down and said: 'I just told you to take it easy. Cool out, man!'"

Haynes said inexperience was to blame and he learnt a lot from that innings, which he said showed him that Test cricket was a real test of patience and craft.

"He was the senior campaigner; he was the one who always talked about occupying the crease, but that same evening I survived and came back next day and was out caught behind cutting at (Jim) Higgs," Haynes recalled.

Higgs had a bit of a hook on Haynes as the leg-spinner also dismissed him in both innings of the next Test, in Barbados, for 66 and 55.

"It used to be said that I was not a good player of spin, but I would never let them get me out. I was no great against it but I never gave my wicket away. I made them work for my wicket," said Haynes, who scored over 7 487 Test runs in 116 Tests, with a best of 184 at Lord's, and 8648 in 238 One-Dayers.

Haynes took the first catch to dismiss Graeme Wood off the bowling of Colin Croft.

"That was at bat-pad," he recalled. "There was a saying that as a youngster that was your spot. I don't think Clive Lloyd would ask Viv Richards or Greenidge to go there, so it was my spot. But that did not matter, really.

"I can't remember how much money I got, or any of the other fashionable things that happened, it was what I wanted to do," he said.

"The position did not matter; wherever they put me, I would go. In those days, there were no helmets, it was a matter of loving it despite the danger."

Haynes came face-to-face with the harsh reality of the big game when he stood nearby and saw Australian batsman Peter Toohey felled by a fast bouncer from Andy Roberts.

"I was fielding with a face cloth and as I tried to help him, the blood kept spouting. It was a terrible sight," he said.

That was one of the adversities which Haynes had to overcome in his illustrious career. The confidence and support from those around him which helped all the way.

"I learned a lot from others, especially those guys in Holder's Hill," he said.

Source :: The Barbados Nation (