Richard Austin

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Richard Austin is a former Jamaican all rounder who played two Tests for the West Indies in 1978. Austin was one of those players who got an opportunity at the highest level without making an impact. Given the strength of the regional team in the late 70s and his involvement in controversy, he was unable to get a long run in the international arena.

Born in Kingston, Jamaica on September 5, 1954, the allrounder was first part of the West Indies Young Cricketers (now called the West Indies Under-19s) before making his debut as a 20-year old for Jamaica in the 1974/1975 domestic season. According to Cricinfo's Martin Williamson, Austin could bowl either medium pace or off-spin.

Austin earned a West Indies call-up for the 1978 home series against Australia. On debut, he scored only two runs, although the West Indies inflicted an innings defeat on Australia. In the second match, Austin scored 20 runs in what was his second and last innings in Test cricket. As a young cricketer in the late 70s, Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket was an option. Austin was good enough to be a peripheral player in that setup. According to Martin Williamson, the WSC created controversy, which the Jamaican allrounder found himself caught up in.

Austin's First Class record was decent, although not spectacular. The allrounder played only 38 First Class matches between 1974 and 1983. That his First Class career ended at 29 had a lot to do with matters off the field, including his involvement with the rebel tour to apartheid South Africa. That indiscretion earned him a life ban from domestic and international cricket. The absence of the safety net probably caused the Jamaican allrounder to drift hopelessly later in life.

From his 38 First Class matches, Austin scored 2,097 runs at an average of 33.82. He had four centuries and 14 half-centuries, with a career-best 141. With the ball, the allrounder managed 73 wickets at an average of 31.21, with a best innings bowling analysis of 8/71. Austin also played one ODI for the Caribbean side in 1978, in which he scored 8 runs and bowled one over for 13 runs.

After his ban for participation in the rebel tours to South Africa, Austin's career and life went downhill. According to Williamson, Austin "became a homeless drug addict." He was an unfulfilled talent—the kind that leaves one wondering what might have been.

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