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Austin – a talent that faded


Austin – a talent that faded

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RICHARD AUSTIN’S DEATH in his native Kingston, Jamaica, on Saturday, aged 60, cut short a life that began with optimism for a bright cricketing future and ended with years of debilitating cocaine addiction, ironically brought on by the very game at which he excelled.

It turned him from an exceptionally gifted all-round sportsman to a bedraggled vagrant, trawling the streets of Kingston, depending on sympathetic handouts from those who recalled his time as one of Jamaica’s finest sportsmen.

As I came to discover over time, the tall, slim, individual mystifyingly nicknamed Danny Germs, would chat intelligently and passionately in his more coherent moments about the state of West Indies cricket and his experiences for Jamaica and for West Indies which he represented under diverse banners in Tests, in Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket (WSC) and, finally and destructively, in the two “rebel” teams that toured apartheid South Africa in 1983 and 1984.

In a late-night session around the bar at Kingston’s Pegasus Hotel during South Africa’s tour five years ago, Robin Jackman, the former England bowler and a fellow commentator, was staggered by the passion and perception of such an obviously broken man.   

Please read the full story in today’s Midweek Nation, or in the eNATION edition.