Joe Hoad’s Paintings in Celebration of Sri Lanka’s World Cup Triumph 1996

Michael Roberts

One day in 1996 our doorbell rang at Woodlark Grove in the suburb of Glenalta in Adelaide . …. And there was Joe Hoad with two paintings he had composed in celebration of Sri Lanka’s triumph at the World Cup earlier in the year. These products had not been commissioned. They were self-inspired and emanated from his profound joy at the manner in which a little island nation – one that was not unlike his own birthplace of Barbados – had tamed a powerful cricketing force that was a bullyboy in the cricketing politics of the 1990s.

This photograph taken there and then in our back garden marks the moment of the gifting ….. appropriately within an Australian backdrop of the bushfire danger kind. But, unlike that landscape, the paintings are unique. To my mind they are heirlooms. In conjunction with Verite Research and Shamara Wettimuny, I have approached the National Library Services Board in Colombo with the suggestion that they should be placed within its portals in public display with a suitable plaque.[1]

What requires the telling is how and why Joe Hoad responded in this way. He passed away recently due to a medical mishap and my story is a tale that is not authenticated by him or his family. It also serves as a REQUIEM in honour of Joe.

As you would have noticed, Joe Hoad was a White man. The White Barbadians were a ruling elite within the island from the 19th century right through into the 1940s. On one occasion Joe told me that way back in the interwar period (1919-39) some of his relatives were explicitly racist, and that their coloured relatives were expected to visit them at the back door.[2]

Joe was a versatile sportsman, excelling in several sports and representing Barbados in the 1950s-and-therabouts in stick fighting, table tennis and cricket – though his cricketing appearances were constrained by the presence of Weekes, Walcott and Worrell in that island arena. He also moved to Lancashire and played in the famous Lancashire League during the summer at some point.

Somewhere around the 1960s (?) he migrated to Queensland in Australia with his family. In that location he developed his painting skills by associating with some Aboriginal artists. At some point later, the Hoad family settled down in Adelaide, where he coached cricket, but also became a well-known table tennis coach – even being appointed Chief Coach of the Australian Para-Olympic squad at one point.

Joe Hoad also became a cricket umpire. It was in this capacity that I met him when I was playing cricket for Flinders University[3] in the lower leagues in the 1980s. Given our Barbadian links I invited him to join the Australia Sri Lanka Association of Adelaide. He did … like a duck to water.

When, in late December 1995, Quintus de Zylwa persuaded me to organise an Adelaidian Wellwishers Society to garner money for Sri Lanka cricket and a meeting was held at Doc Karu’s house in central Adelaide for this purpose in January 1996, Joe Hoad was there.[4] It is, therefore, not surprising that he was overjoyed by the Sri Lankan cricket team’s performance at the 1996 World Cup.[5]

Joe’s relationship with Sri Lankan cricket did not end there. Sri Lanka was his second favourite team – second to the West Indies. Living and breathing cricket, he was always at hand to support these two teams when they played in Adelaide. He was so helpful at coaching sessions when the squad managed by Ajit Jayasekera visited Adelaide in January 2003 that Ajit asked Joe to join him in the official box at the Adelaide Oval during matches.

Some of us were able to repay Joe. When the Windies toured Sri Lanka in late 2010, we purchased a return air ticket for Joe to watch them play at Galle on the 15-19th November 2010. The BCCSL did not cooperate; but Kushil Gunasekera at the Foundation of Goodness was receptive and provided Joe and myself with free quarters at Hikkaduwa, while Dushy and Tanya Perera housed Joe when he was in Colombo. For Joe as well as this writer, watching the Windies contest Sri Lanka in front of the Galle Fort (in what had been the Aloysian home grounds way back in the 1950s) was manna from heaven.

Joe with the late Tony Cozier and a Windies cricketer  .. and with Ranjan Paranavithana , a cricketing official with roots in Galle just like Pissu Percy …

Not so the traffic and Sri Lankan driving manners. Fearless batsman in the past though he was, Joe Hoad clung to his seat and exclaimed every now and then during our hire-van trips from Hikkaduwa to Galle and back. Therein was displayed a fundamental difference between Bajan and Lankan ways.

Nevertheless, thanks to the NLSB and Verite Research, Joe’s pastel-painting handiwork depicting a landmark cricketing moment will soon be on a Sri Lankan wall for many to see …. And absorb.



Joe Hoad at ease at Dushy & Tanay Perera’s home in Nugegoda, November 2011


[1] An Email Note from Mr. Walimunige Sunil of the National Library Services Board dated 2 February 2021 says I appreciate your donation of two paintings and I can hang both paintings in suitable places of the building.” Shamara Wettimuny of Verite Research mediated this approach and will be delivering the paintings in due course.

[2] This type of class differentiation was not unusual in the British colonies. On one occasion in the 1980s a Burgher friend referred to another Burgher family as “backdoor Burghers.” This was the first time I had heard the phrase, but I understood it immediately.  The reference was (is) to the poorer class of Burghers known at times as “sapaththu lansi” (shoemaker, leatherworker Burghers) —a phraseology that goes back to the 19th century where the class differentiation between mixed bloods of Portuguese descent and those of ‘pure’ Dutch descent was deep-seated.

[3] Though I was teaching at Adelaide University, the Flinders grounds were near our suburb and the cricketing crowd was homelier and more welcoming.

[4] Joe had brought a couple of bats with him. Chaminda Vaas liked the feel of one; so, Anil Rajapaksa and I combined our largesse and purchased the bat for him. Vaas did not get the opportunity to use that weapon during the World Cup. He was not needed as a batsman.

[5] See

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One response to “Joe Hoad’s Paintings in Celebration of Sri Lanka’s World Cup Triumph 1996

  1. Pingback: Trauma and Joy in Cricket …. and Abusive Lankan Aussies | Thuppahi's Blog

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