Conrad Hunte

Conrad Hunte bigraphy, stories - Barbadian cricketer

Conrad Hunte : biography

5 May 1932 – 3 December 1999

Sir Conrad Cleophas Hunte, KA (9 May 1932 – 3 December 1999) was a Barbadian cricketer. Hunte played 44 Test matches as an opening batsman for the West Indies.

Life after cricket

Hunte was a committed Christian. The defining experience of his life was when in 1961, on the West Indies’ tour of Australia, he saw the film The Crowning Experience, about the life of the black American educator Mary McLeod Bethune. This film was promoted by Moral Re-Armament (MRA), a multi-faith organisation promoting absolute moral and ethical standards of behaviour, to which Hunte committed the remainder of his life.

Hunte made no secret of his beliefs. Some reports suggest that the other members of the West Indies team became tired of his constantly expressing them in the dressing room, and that this contributed to his not being awarded the captaincy in 1963.

Hunte retired from cricket in 1967, although he could possibly have continued for some more years, in order to work full-time for MRA, promoting harmonious race relations. He wrote his autobiography, entitled Playing to Win, in 1971. After several years in Britain, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to help with the racial situation there. It was there that he met his wife Patricia, a local newscaster, with whom he had three daughters.

In 1991, as apartheid was coming to an end in South Africa, Hunte rang the director of the new United Cricket Board of South Africa, Ali Bacher, and offered to help develop cricket in the black townships and promote reconciliation between the races. He worked as National Development Coach, funded by the MCC, for seven years. In 1998 Hunte was conferred the highest honour in Barbados; he was made a Knight of St. Andrew (KA) of the Order of Barbados.

In 1999, with encouragement from the government of Barbados, he returned to the island of his birth. He was elected to the presidency of the Barbados Cricket Association, with plans to revive cricket in the country, but he died two months later, while in Australia to speak at a conference of the MRA.


Playing career

Hunte did make his Test debut the following winter against Pakistan at his home ground of Kensington Oval. He hit the first two balls that he faced, from Fazal Mahmood, for fours and made 142 runs in his first innings. In the third Test of the same series he made 260, including a partnership of 446 with Garfield Sobers which was then the second-highest partnership in history and is the sixth highest, Cricinfo, Retrieved on 13 March 2009 — Sobers went on to make a then world-record 365 not out as the West Indies reached 790 for 3 declared. In the fourth Test of the series, Hunte made another century. He finished his debut series with 622 runs at an average of 77.75, and the West Indies won the series 3-1.

After this successful start, Hunte was the West Indies’ regular opening batsman for the next nine years, and vice captain of the team for eight of them. This was a successful period for the West Indies, in which they won seven of the ten series in which he played.

Hunte played a major role in West Indies’ series win in England in 1963. He curbed his aggressive instincts as a batsman in order to build a solid platform for the innings. This was rewarded with two crucial centuries. He scored 182 in the first innings of the summer as West Indies won by 10 wickets. Then in the final Test of the summer, the West Indies needed to avoid losing to win the series. They were set 253 to win in the fourth innings, at that time regarded as a difficult target, with over two days to play. But Hunte scored 108 not out as the West Indies won by eight wickets, and won the series 3-1. Hunte finished the series with a batting average of 58.87, and was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1964.

After the tour to England, the captain of the West Indies, Frank Worrell, retired. Hunte expected to be appointed captain in his place, and when Garfield Sobers was chosen instead, he was bitterly disappointed, and for six weeks considered resigning himself. But he chose to continue playing, and in the next series, against Australia in 1965, he scored 550 runs, although without a century: he scored six fifties in ten innings, with a highest score of 89 and an average of 61.11. This was the record for the highest series aggregate without a century until Mike Atherton scored 553 in a six-Test series against Australia in 1993.