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Three Bajans who helped shape modern SA thinking

Port Elizabeth - Even in today's era of reconciliation it is difficult to mention the name of Sylvester Clarke without some disapproving curl of the lip at how the big Bajan was merely a "mercenary at heart"

Port Elizabeth - Even in today's era of reconciliation it is difficult to mention the name of Sylvester Clarke without some disapproving curl of the lip at how the big Bajan was merely a "mercenary at heart".
Which may be true for those who opposed the rebel tours of the 1980s when the tearaway fast bowler sowed seeds of fear among most South African batsmen and pitches were deliberately prepared to suit his style of bowling.
As the third Bajan to die within a matter of five weeks, the terrible news of his sudden passing has shocked as many in South Africa as it has in that lovely, warm and island in the sun whose people are as gentle and as effusive as you would expect in the Caribbean.
Yet, in their own distinctive manner and through their special skills, Malcolm Marshall, Sir Conrad Hunte and Clarke, or Sylvers as he was known, played a major role in helping shape the modern game in South Africa.
Sir Conrad, knighted only last year by the Barbados Government, was an elder statesman in the development cause. Marshall had a hand in shaping the future of current Tests players, Jonty Rhodes, Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener and to an extend also helped Dale Benkenstein gain a broader knowledge of the sport of which he already knows much.
Clarke showed that despite his aggressive, hostile image where he would enjoy nothing more than pin a batsman, as well as take his wicket, he was gentle and thoughtful off of the field; passing on his knowledge to young would-be hopefuls inspired by his bowling technique.
His efforts for Transvaal (now Gauteng), Free State and Northerns during a period of eight years are well documented. A brooding man with a nasty streak who once threw a brick in a Test in Pakistan and drew a hostile response from the crowd, he was also accused of violating Law 24, note 2 fair delivery, the arm although South Africa's umpires declined to call him.
A paragraph in the weekly Spinner's Tales column, when he played for Free State in 1987/88 and suggested he threw the vicious, sharp lifting in-swinger, at first drew his wrath and then a smile.
"Mon it's up to the umpires and I think I have managed to fool them all," was his comment after Northerns had wrapped up a place in the Nissan Shield final that season when they beat Free State 2-1 in the best of three semi-finals at the Harmony ground in the goldfields.
There was always the feeling he was disappointed with his treatment in South Africa by provincial officials. It was, after all, the mercenary image which they saw, not the man behind it. A pity as he was genuinely sincere about the "human side" of his relationships with South Africans.
Unlike Sir Conrad who was as much a missionary in Africa as he is a pioneer in the field of development. His role in Africa was a mixture of missionary and explorer as the representative of two important bodies, the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) and International Cricket Council (ICC) it was his job to "oversee the coaching and develop the game on their behalf" in what was originally 10 countries south of the Sahara. Throw in the four West African English-speaking countries - Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana and Sierra Leone - along with the Seychelles and Mauritius, it is easy to see how this job had grown beyond its original job description of early 1992.
There were times during his UCB years when others would become angry at what they felt was the tardiness of the pace at which the game grew. It was then he would suggest it was time to light a candle.
"We always need to light a candle for the world, in times of darkness there is a need for a friendly light," he suggested with a smile.
Marshall's legacy is on display in this second Test of the series against England and nothing further need by said.