Vale: Joe Hoad, Barbadian Virtuoso

Vale: Joe Hoad, Barbadian Virtuoso

Michael Roberts

Joe Hoad was multi-skilled … in the manner unique. A Bajan man from the elite White ruling elements in Barbados he had no colour prejudice whatsoever and moved with ease among Aboriginal Australians as well as Sri Lankans …. as seen so famously in his affinity with Pissu Percy when they met in Galle in 2015 during the Windies Test match in October 2015.

Brought up in Barbados in the Weekes-Walcott era, Joe Hoad represented Barbados in cricket, table tennis, draughts, darts and stick fighting. Like several West Indian cricketers, he moved to UK to play League cricket in Lancashire. For reasons unknown to me, Joe and his wife Jean then migrated to Australia. Their initial stint was in Queensland and it was in this arena that Joe developed his painting skills by interacting with Aboriginal artists.

That interaction was — and remains – an indelible testimony to the absence of colour prejudice in the man. This dimension was revealed to me when he, at various moments, retailed stories marking the play of White colour prejudice within the West Indies: for instance, (a) how the dominant Whites in Bajan cricket circles in the 1920s pigeon-holed black pacemen; (b) the note that his family relatives of dark skin could only approach his parental homes via the back door;[1] and (c) Jeff Stollmeyer’s hostility[2] to the Sri Lankan efforts to gain entry into the highest rungs of the ICC when he was the West Indian representative in the MCC in the late 1970s.

Joe coaching at Brighton in Adelaide

Well, Joe Hoad moved to South Australia with his family at some point and pursued his career as table-tennis coach, cricket coach and cricket-umpire. It was as Umpire that I encountered him when I (aged in my forties) was playing B and/or C grade cricket for Flinders University in the 1980s. As far as I can recall, it may have been through my friendship that he became a member of the Australia Sri Lanka Association in the 1980s and 1990s – at a time when this Association was flourishing under the impetus provided by the Claessen family, Tilak Gunasekera. Everard Walker, Ravi Ravindran. Colin & Manel Fernando and many other hands.

When Muralitharan was no-balled by Darrel Hair at the MCG on the 16th December 1995 as one move in a scheme orchestrated by Bob Simpson and a few others in the Australian Cricket Board who believed that they needed to cleanse the cricket field of a throwing ‘curse,’ Joe Hoad told me: “Murali does not throw; but Dharmasena and Glenn McGrath chuck occasionally.”

Consider that: his sharp vision and cricketing acumen had discerned what high-speed camera measurements recorded in subsequent years – resulting in the 15-degree MCC-ICC limit to separate throws from legitimate deliveries. What vision! What commitment to honesty!

At this point in early 1996 I had been ‘recruited’ by Quintus de Zylwa,[3] the indefatigable master-chef for Sri Lankan cricketing interests in Australia, to garner financial support for the BCCSL– in its parlour financial state then—from the Sri Lankan ‘community’ in Adelaide. So, when a few of us met at Doc Karu’s house in Robe Terrace[4] in mid-January 1996 and set up the Adelaide Friends of Sri Lanka Cricket, Joe was among those present.[5]

From that moment, if not before, Joe’s commitment towards the interests of Sri Lankan cricket and his grounded hostility to the pursuits of some Australians was firm – albeit second in line behind his patriotism to the West Indian cricketing arena. The principal moments in this tale of Joe’s loyalty to us Sri Lankans I has been recorded in two illustrated texts:



Joe Hoad in the Sri Lankan Box at Adelaide Oval on Manager Ajit Jayasekera’s invitation in gratitude for advice rendered

What follows here, today late in the day so to speak,  is a ‘sidelight’ arising from a Mss discovery in my library. This item displays Hoad’s wit and virtuosity in limerick composition in typical Caribbean mode: where he ‘roasted-toasted’ one Michael Roberts at an ‘official’ function of some sort in Adelaide.

Michael Roberts Roast 11/5/97

This World got men of Brilliance

And some as thick as mud

But there’s something special

In men with “Bajan Blood”

One such man is Michael

Mr.Roberts if you please

Talk Social Anthropology

He’ll bring you to your knees

Good at School? No problem

And that is nothing new

He passed in every subject

Man! That Bajan Blood came through

In Sport he was a Guru

He shone with Bat and Ball

On Rugby field or Tennis court

Mike could play them all

Man Sporting talent is in built

A legacy my friend

He’s got it from his dad you know

Its in all dem Bajan Men

But the greatest thing ‘bout Bajan men

Is how they please in bed

When a woman got a Bajan man

She loves him till she dead

But that’s not so with Michael

Info has come to hand

That when the lights go out at night

He is a Sri Lankan man

                                 Sgd. Joe Hoad


[1] This tale from Barbados should be set alongside the colour prejudices among Burghers in Sri Lanka in the 20th century [and thus in centuries prior]. I was introduced to this dimension when a Burgher mate of mine referred [circa 1987] to another Burgher family as a “back-door Burghers.” The import was instantly clear to me though I had never experienced it before. For these aspects of Sri Lankan society involving both class and racial prejudices, Readers should absorb the book People Inbetween, Colombo, 1989.

[2] Stollmeyer was from Trinidad and played for the Windies under Goddard in the late 1940s and  “gained the captaincy during the 1951/2 tour of Australia after John Goddard stood down in that series.” He retained the captaincy during the West Indies’ next three series, all of which were played at home. Thereafter he was  President of the West Indies Board of Control from 1974 until 1981.

[3] I was at the MCG with my nephew Herbert Roberts when Murali was no-balled. When I banged into Quintus at the MCG a day or so later, he broached the need for more monies at the Sri Lankan end and requested me to marshal funds in Adelaide.

[4] Robe Terrace was centrally located and the house was also spacious; while the Karunaratne family were not only my close buddies, but keen supporters of matters Sri Lankan.

[5] The Sri Lankan team was in Adelaide then but Duleep Mendis and captain Ranatunga were unable to attend our inaugural meeting. However, Dav Whatmore came with a number of players, including Vass, Kalu and Pramodya Wickremasinghe.

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  1. Pingback: Joe Hoad’s Paintings in Celebration of Sri Lanka’s World Cup Triumph 1996 | Thuppahi's Blog

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