March 2022 Volume 18

Easton McMorris's passing triggers flood of tributes

Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
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Former Kingston College, Jamaica and West Indies batsman Easton “Bull” McMorris, who passed away at age 86 after recently falling ill, is being remembered as an outstanding player and leader who had a deep love for cricket.

“The cricket fraternity has lost a person who had the interest of Jamaica and West Indies cricket deep in his heart. I'm going to miss him very much,” Jackie Hendriks, a compatriot and former West Indies teammate of McMorris, told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.

“I am pretty devastated — he was a very close friend and up to very recently we kept speaking to each other on matters concerning cricket. He was a very optimistic person and he loved his cricket very dearly.

“We knew each other from school days — he was at Kingston College and I was at Wolmer's High School. We played against each other and together for Jamaica and West Indies. We formed a great friendship, we toured together and we exchanged ideas on cricket,” the 88-year-old former wicketkeeper said, while expressing condolence to McMorris's widow Avery, children and other relatives.

Born in Kingston on April 4, 1935 to mother Inez Ashley and father E A McMorris, a Harbour Street-based merchant tailor, Easton Dudley Ashley St John McMorris was first inspired to play cricket as a young boy when he visited the Lucas Cricket Club in east Kingston, close to where he lived on Lacy Road.

That day, he saw the legendary West Indies and Jamaica batsman George Headley playing football on the outfield. He and an older brother then walked into the Lucas clubhouse and saw photographs of the great Headley playing cricket in England.

That experience triggered a life-long love affair with cricket and with Lucas Cricket Club. He represented Lucas throughout his playing days and would serve in later life as administrator. Until he became ill recently McMorris remained very close to his club.

A technically sound, right-hand opening batsman and former Jamaica captain, McMorris averaged 26.85 in 13 Tests for West Indies between 1958 and 1966.

He struck one Test century, against India at Sabina Park in 1962, Jamaica's year of Independence from Britain.

As a batsman, McMorris was prolific in regional cricket. He scored 5,906 runs and averaged 42.18 in 95 first-class matches.

“He was one of our finest batsmen. He plundered a lot of runs in the Shell Shield (regional cricket competition) and was one of the leading scorers for Jamaica of all times,” noted Hendriks.

McMorris worked for much of his adult life at the Ministry of Labour. After his cricket career ended, he gained applause for his service as a liason officer for the overseas farm work programme in North America.

He also served as team manager and chairman of selectors for Jamaica.

Maurice Foster, another former Jamaica and West Indies batsman, said McMorris was a first-rate captain who had an eye for talent and was ever ready to guide younger players.

“He was my Jamaica captain for many years. He was manager of the Jamaica team when I was captain. He was very astute and was a captain who believed in his players and encouraged his players.

“He was a proactive type of captain, not reactive. He was a thinker and he would plan for incoming batsman to try to get them out. He was highly rated by many of us as one of the better captains Jamaica has ever produced,” he told the Observer.

“If he saw a player with potential during club matches he would be the first to encourage that person. He would speak to them and say what he thinks they are doing wrong and and what they should work on to be a better player. He was looking at the broader picture and that was to represent Jamaica and probably West Indies,” he recalled.

Foster said McMorris's competitive edge shone through, even at the local club and parish level.

“He played a lot of club cricket for Lucas and played with the same intensity as he would when representing Jamaica,” he said, while noting McMorris loved the game of dominoes.

In a tribute, Jamaica Cricket Association President Wilford “Billy” Heaven said McMorris was a “gentle giant” who “unreservedly contributed” to the sport.

“We have indeed lost a stalwart of a man — Easton 'Bull' McMorris,” Heaven said in the statement.

“The cricket fraternity and by extension the sporting world is deeply saddened by the passing of Mr Easton McMorris. Mr McMorris was a gentle giant of a cricket man who unreservedly contributed beyond boundaries to the cricket pitch of Jamaica and the West Indies.

“Aside from his physical influence, Mr McMorris also cemented his astounding knowledge and proficiency in the field and the minds of those he encountered.

“Though his innings has come to an end, it is not without distinguished boundaries and life lessons that we can truly apply to the development of cricket,” said Heaven.

- SANJAY MYERS

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