Wisden Obituary - Reg Scarlett

Reg Scarlett - 'A vintage man of cricket'

SCARLETT, REGINALD OSMOND, died on August 14, the day before his 85th birthday. Hulking and hirsute, Reg Scarlett first played for his native Jamaica in 1951-52 and, two seasons later, took eight wickets in two matches against Len Hutton's England tourists.

In July 1958, he claimed 14 more in two games against Barbados and, when England toured again in 1959-60, he played in three of the Tests.

Alan Ross described him as "a Bedser-size off-spinner", but Scarlett managed only two wickets, and did little with the bat.

As it turned out, they were his last first-class matches: he started playing as a professional in Britain, first in Scotland then, for a decade, in the hard school of the Lancashire leagues.

With Lance Gibbs seemingly a fixture in the West Indian side, there was no room for Scarlett, although he remained close to his former team-mates.

In 1973, he and Garry Sobers staggered out of a nightclub at 4am during the Lord's Test; after a shower and another drink or two to freshen up, Sobers returned to the crease and extended his final Test century to 150 not out.

Scarlett became better known as a coach, setting up the acclaimed Haringey (later London) Cricket College, which produced several county players, many from underprivileged backgrounds. Adrian Rollins, who would score 13 first-class hundreds for Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, said: "If it hadn't been for the London Cricket College, I'd probably have been in prison."

Scarlett eventually returned to the Caribbean in 1997, as West Indies' first director of coaching. "In his pomp, Reg was a bear of a bloke, with the heart and soul of a lion," said the journalist Stephen Thorpe. "As a vintage man of cricket, here's one who actually merited a knighthood for services to the game."

© John Wisden & Co.