Alphonso Theodore Roberts
September 18, 1937, Kingstown, St Vincent
July 24, 1996, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, (aged 58y 310d)
Right hand bat
The first `small islander' to represent West Indies, Alphonso Theodore Roberts died in Montreal of gall-bladder cancer on July 24, aged 59. An innings of 74 for the Combined Islands against Trinidad in March 1955 brought the young man from St. Vincent to prominence, and at 19 he was selected for the following winter's tour of New Zealand. His solitary cap came at Auckland, where he made 28 and 0 in the match which saw NZ record their first Test victory after 26 years of trying. After the tour, on which he made only 137 runs, he moved to Trinidad, where he encountered criticism from some who objected to his selection ahead of local-born players. He soon returned to St. Vincent, leaving former West Indian captain Jeff Stollmeyer lamenting that ` Trinidad was the great loser for missing such a great talent and yet so young'.
Alfie Roberts emigrated to Canada to study in 1962. After university he worked in Montreal for many years until he retired in 1993. I had the great pleasure of batting with him in the only game he ever played in Canada, for Mount Royal against a touring New York team in 1966. He had to be talked into playing - he hadn't touched a bat for four years - but then made a marvellous fifty. He obviously enjoyed himself, but when asked to turn out again, said: `No - I will never play cricket again.'
And he did not - although he maintained a keen interest in international cricket until the end. Another of his passions was jazz music, and he was a close friend of Everton Weekes, another jazz-lover, whom he met on that New Zealand tour.
Wisden Almanack 1997, Alan Weedy
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