Desmond Haynes cannot exactly be called the best opening batsman to have played for the West Indies – at least his opening partner Gordon Greenidge would seriously contest such a claim – but yes, he was a crucial contributor to the team’s cause during their golden years throughout the late ’70s and early and mid ’80s. Desmond Haynes, originally from the stronghold of West Indies cricket Barbados, played his first test at Port of Spain from March 3-5, 1978. His last test came against England at his home ground in Bridgetown against England in April 8-13, 1994. In a 16-year career, he played 116 tests with 7467 runs at an average of 42.29 and 18 centuries.
However, more than the numbers, Haynes’s significance lies elsewhere. With Gordon Greenidge, he forged an opening partnership that is yet to be seen in West Indies cricket. Together, they laid the foundation for the innumerable victories that the team achieved when they played together. The strange thing is that in spite of being part of such a legendary opening partnership, Haynes is hardly talked about and all the plaudits seem to be reserved for his more illustrious opening partner Gordon Greenidge.
There is an interesting fact regarding Helen and Clytemnestra in Greek mythology – both were twins yet Helen was supposed to be the most beautiful woman around at that time and Clytemnestra was the no good, so-and-so who murdered her husband Agamemnon when he returned from the victorious campaign of Troy. A similar situation can be seen here in the case of Greenidge and Haynes as well. When you talk of the opening partnership, people seem to forget the way Haynes curbed his natural instincts and played the sheet anchor to Greenidge’s whirlwind. Not many seem to understand that two hands are needed to clap and it is not possible to do so with a single hand.
Haynes was also in a way responsible for the gay abandon that the batsmen who came after him felt. As a batsman Haynes was primarily comfortable against pace as was the case with most batsmen from the Caribbean in those days. However, he also played a couple of excellent innings of 75 and 143 against Australia in Sydney during the 1988-89 season. This match was one of the few that the West Indies team lost in that era. So, that goes to say something about the levels of brilliance and achievement of Haynes as a batsman.
Haynes also captained the team for a brief period and showed his hard-as-a-nail mentality, something that he demonstrated aplenty under that smiling demeanor, and did not let England win the 1989-90 test in Trinidad. It is known that people who make you smile are never taken that seriously and people who are grim get more attention from all concerned. Well, it’s time to throw that attitude to the dustbin and applaud Haynes for lending the much needed support that helped Greenidge and the West Indies achieve their fullest potential. Come let’s clap!