Eldine Baptiste: Three-dimensional star

Friday 7th October 2022

Men’s First Team

Eldine Baptiste: Three-dimensional star

Black & bi-racial cricketers have made substantial contributions to Kent; in title-winning teams, & also captaining sides that live long in the memory of Kent Members and supporters.

Across October & in Black History Month, we will be celebrating the contributions of a select number of Kent Cricket’s black & bi-racial cricketers from the Club’s history.

Eldine Ashworth Elderfield Baptiste

  • Born: 12. 3. 1960 Liberta, Antigua
  • Right-handed bat, right-arm fast-medium bowler
  • Kent 1981-1987. Cap (no. 163) 1983
  • Educated: All Saints Secondary Modern School, St John’s, Antigua.

But for a change in regulations which allowed only one overseas player per team, Eldine Baptiste might well have ranked with his near contemporary John Shepherd as one of Kent’s truly great all-rounders.

An aggressive middle-order batter, accurate bowler capable of long spells, & a magnificent fielder with a long, powerful, exceptionally accurate, throw, he gave excellent service during his time with the county & the fact that he was selected for the multi-talented West Indies team at a time when they dominated world cricket is, in itself, testimony to his quality. He was on the winning side in every one of his ten Test matches.

Already experienced with Leeward Islands Under 19s & with Antigua when he joined the staff at Kent in 1980, Baptiste played club cricket for Gravesend & made his first-class debut in the following season against Oxford University in the Parks, the first of 27 first team appearances that year.

With the new restrictions in force & skipper Asif Iqbal the other overseas player, there were fewer opportunities in 1982 but he registered his maiden half-century – 69* vs. Glamorgan at Canterbury – & for Kent Second Eleven against Surrey at The Oval scored 201*.

Kent’s only overseas player in 1983, he responded with 755 first-class runs (1001 in all matches), centuries against Sussex & Yorkshire & 50 first-class wickets (75 in all matches).

That Winter, he toured India, playing one Test match & five One-Day Internationals, & Australia for the Benson & Hedges World Series Cup where he played a further 13 Limited Overs Internationals.

In 1984, Baptiste toured England with West Indies, playing in all five Tests & all three Limited Overs Internationals following Holding, Garner & Marshall as fourth seamer. At Edgbaston he hit 87* & shared a ninth wicket partnership of 115 in 113 minutes with Holding (69).

Back with Kent in 1985, he had his best season with 972 runs & 58 wickets in first-class matches alone. In one-day cricket he hit three fifties & 22 wickets including 5 for 30 vs. Glamorgan at Cardiff in the Benson & Hedges Cup.

In 1986, with the return of Terry Alderman, Baptiste was restricted mainly to limited-overs matches, emerging leading wicket taker with 34.

Sharing the overseas player role with Roy Pienaar in 1987, Baptiste produced some of his best performances – 95 out of 122 vs. Lancashire at Mote Park, 64 & 6 for 69 on a ‘plasticine strip’ vs. Sussex at Dartford & 8 for 76 at Edgbaston.

Baptiste played his last Test match & One-Day Internationals against England in West Indies in 1989/90. Much of the remainder of his career was in South Africa where, for Eastern Province, he took over 200 wickets & KwaZulu-Natal where, on retirement, he was appointed coach.

Profile adapted from Derek Carlaw’s A to Z of Kent Cricketers