Those who followed cricket closely in the late 1980s and early 1990s will surely remember the terror named Patrick Patterson who was another addition to West Indies’ famed pace brigade. A tall fast bowler capable of generating unusual pace but with accuracy, Patterson was identified as a unique talent early in his career. However, he faded away as abruptly from as he had arrived, leaving cricket enthusiasts shocked and confused. While some expected the worst has happened to Patterson in these 25 years, Bharat Sundaresan of The Indian Express finally managed to track him down in the Caribbean in a state that saddens his admirers. Patrick Patterson: One of West Indies’ fastest bowlers who disappeared, literally!
Sundaresan found a Patterson who remembers very little of his heroics for West Indies. He described him as “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.”
Far away from public eye, the once-fierce Patterson stays in recluse. He even refused Sundaresan, albeit politely, to call him inside his Kingston house.
Sundaresan writes: “The next four hours are spent by the Marina, sipping beer — Patterson insists on having a milder, imported one — and sharing a massive snapper with some fried bammy. It is over these four hours, as we talk about everything from the heady heights of his cricketing career to the ‘dark days that were as dark as midnight’ as he calls them, that you realise why the Caribbean and the cricketing universe doesn’t quite know what really happened to Patterson. For, even he has been struggling to make sense of it.”
The few incidents still fresh in Patterson’s fading memory include his 1987-88 tour to India that included the World Cup and a bilateral series. “I remember Arun Lal — I got him out. Kris Srikkanth, what a dangerous fellow he was! If you didn’t get him out early, he would punish you. He and David Boon bothered me the most as batsmen. And I also developed a great friendship with Azharuddin. What is he up to now? Coaching?”
Of his own bowling, he says: “It was natural. But after a point, only the foot was going higher and higher. Everything in my life was going the other way.”