Remembering Patrick Patterson: The fearsome fast bowler from West Indies

One thing you surely miss about being a cricket fan is missing following the great West Indies team. This is because by the time one became cricket conscious in late 1980s, West Indies team was already on its decline. One especially misses tracking the fast bowling machines from the region.

Despite the decline in late 1980s, there were still some sparkling performances now and then. My recollection of West Indies igniting fear in opposition dressing room was Patrick Patterson. One still has vague memories of reading how Patterson created havoc against Indians in India. But he was not around very long and quickly disappeared from the scene.

Thus, this piece on Patterson by Bharat Sundaresan of Indian express brought back some amazing memories. But as one read the piece, one was taken aback to figure how things and time have been really tough on Patterson. So much so, he hardly remembers most of his performances:

This is not easy for me. Believe you me…believe you me…” Those are the words I hear before the door opens. After six years and three trips to the Caribbean, searching and scouring the entire Jamaican island for Patrick Patterson, the moment has finally arrived. I’m outside his residence and he’s just about to step out. But somehow, I’m not sure of what to expect.

For years now, I’ve only heard grave and dire speculations about Patterson’s present state — that he’s lost in the bush or is in an asylum; maybe, even roaming the streets as a destitute. Patterson has only added to the ambiguity. Earlier in the day, he had sounded rather cryptic over the phone. “I find moving around tough and I struggle with my daily functioning,” he had said. At some point, Patterson also mentioned not having his own shelter. And, as I stand near the gate of this rather spacious but slightly unkempt one-storey house, which I later realise has been home the former fastest-bowler-in-the-world-turned-recluse for nearly 25 years, it’s difficult not to fear the worst.

Those fears are put to rest, though, as soon as I see him walk out. Patterson, 55, is tall as ever, but a lot frailer than before — almost gaunt. He walks out wearing a loose, long shirt, khaki shorts, a cap and a disarming smile. The eyes still have the twinkle of yesteryears and the middle tooth is still conspicuously absent.

He thanks Bharat for meeting him and talking to him:

The sudden transformation in his life affected all his relationships and turned him into a recluse. The raging speculation over his condition only aggravated Patterson’s manically depressed state and fed his paranoia about what might happen to him. It’s even convinced him over the years that those trying to help him are putting themselves in harm’s way. “I am always scared for whoever reaches out to me, that they’ll get to them too and ensure that I’m stuck here. You should be careful too,” he says. It takes nearly two hours to somewhat get him to believe that there might not have been any “external forces” out to get him, that he might have ended up becoming his own enemy. He reluctantly agrees as we are about to get done.

Patterson admits to have gotten out of his shell slightly of late. He can go to the supermarket without worrying about what people might say. Over time, his estranged family has patched up with him, too. His children, a 27-year-old daughter and a 24-year-old son, who live in Canada, now visit him often. Last year, he even took them to meet their grandparents in the country. The children provide him with basic provisions every month to keep him afloat.

We get picked up by Locks that night. As he’s about to get out of the car, Patterson holds my hands and says, “I haven’t spoken like this to anyone from the time I can remember. I’m so glad I came. Money can’t buy this. I’m so glad I came…”

Really sad..Thanks a lot Bharat for all the effort to find Patterson and what a poignant piece…

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2 Responses to “Remembering Patrick Patterson: The fearsome fast bowler from West Indies”

  1. vikramml Says:

    Thanks for sharing this. Interesting that he mentions that he found Srikkanth to be a dangerous batsman! I was looking up Patterson’s videos on youtube and found a world series video of the perpetually sniffling Srikkanth hitting Patterson for a six (without a helmet, mind you) in the long Adelaide oval. He is clean bowled next ball but its a no ball. Fun!

    • Amol Agrawal Says:

      Hi Vikram, yeah quite an article and glad you liked it. What a struggle for him despite achieving instant success. Srikanth was quite a character no doubt. Facing Patterson without a helmet (despite being hit by Akram in late 1980s) was quite something. He would have been quite a force in T20s

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