Former West Indies batsman Irvine Shillingford dies at 78

Irvine Shillingford

Cricket West Indies (CWI) has paid tribute to the late West Indies batsman Irvine Shillingford who passed away Thursday in his homeland Dominica.

President Ricky Skerritt hailed Shillingford as one who “pioneered the way for others to follow”, while praising his commitment to the development of the regional game.

“On behalf of CWI I offer my sincere condolences to the family and loved ones of Irving Shillingford,” Skerritt said Friday. “He was someone who played in the true spirit of the game and pioneered the way for others to follow. He was also one of cricket’s finest gentlemen, and an astute thinker with a wealth of knowledge.

“[Irvine] was dedicated to the game over six decades as a player and administrator. He worked patiently and tirelessly to make sure Dominica and the Windward Islands featured prominently in the cricket map of the Caribbean.”

Shillingford, the first Dominican to represent West Indies, featured in four Tests and two One-Day Internationals during the 1970s, managing to score one hundred against Pakistan in Georgetown in only his second Test.

He was part of a side led by the peerless Clive Lloyd and which included the likes of Gordon Greenidge, Vivian Richards and Alvin Kallicharan.

Last Thursday, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit labelled Shillingford a “true icon”, and said his career had “embodied the hopes and goals of countless Dominican cricketers who hoped to reach comparable success.”

Following his playing career, Shillingford went on to manage and coach the West Indies Under-19 team, and also served as a selector and coach of the Windward Islands team.

Irvine Shillingford was a gifted batsman who made his first-class debut aged 16, but had to wait another four years for his second appearance, when he impressed batting No. 3 against the touring Australians – thereafter he scored consistently for more than a decade without coming close to international recognition. A superb 1976-77 season finally saw him called into the West Indies side at the age of 32 for the second Test against Pakistan, where he made 39 and 2, but in the third Test at Georgetown he blasted 120, but by the end of the series he had lost his place in a powerful batting line-up. He was again in excellent form the following season, hitting his career-best 238 against Leeward Islands at Castries, and when the Packer rebels disappeared he was given another chance, against Australia in Guyana. But he made 3 and 16 and was again dropped. In a different era Shillingford would have made far more than four Test appearances.