Shortly after arriving at the Norman Manley International Airport with the Leeward Islands team for their Shell Shield match against Jamaica in January 1986, captain Vivian Richards was asked if he feared the home team’s vaunted pace attack.
“Wait until you see my pace,” Richards responded with typical bravado.
The Leewards were decimated by 10 wickets on the third of the four-day match. Leading the carnage 30 years ago was Patrick Patterson, who stamped his mark that season as one of cricket’s most feared bowlers.
Patterson was the star of the Shell Shield. His heroics for Jamaica earned him a call-up to the West Indies team in their home series against England.
The hosts won 5-0, the second time they had whitewashed England in two years. Patterson played in all Tests, taking four wickets for 73 runs in the first at Sabina.
He made a lasting impression on the Brits, including former fast bowler turned journalist Mike Selvey, who said Patterson’s intimidating delivery stride “stamped down hard enough to measure on the Richter Scale”.
One week before the Leewards match, Patterson spearheaded Jamaica’s three-wicket win over Guyana at Sabina. Roger Harper’s team were blown away in the first innings for 41, with Patterson taking seven for 24.
But the Leewards performance made bigger headlines. They had a formidable batting line-up with Richards, the West Indies captain, Luther Kelly, Richie Richardson, Enoch Lewis and Ralston Otto, backed up by the all-rounder Eldine Baptiste.
Their bowling was strong as well. Anthony Merrick, Winston Benjamin and George Ferris were fast bowlers on the verge of West Indies selection; Baptiste, a seamer, had played nine Tests for the WI.
Opening batsman Wayne Lewis was a member of the Jamaica team. He said he has never seen a bowler as fast as Patterson, especially in 1986. The Leewards batsmen must have felt the same way.
“When Richie Richardson came out (to bat) you could see the fear in his eyes. It’s like he wanted to send for a helmet but didn’t because of ego,” Lewis told the Jamaica Observer.
Patterson dismissed Richardson twice in the match. In the second innings, his four wickets also included Richards and Otto.
Lewis first encountered Patterson as a schoolboy. He made his first Sunlight Cup century for Kingston College against Patterson’s Wolmer’s.
They were teammates at Kensington in the Senior Cup. Patterson first played for Jamaica in 1983 with little distinction.
A net session with the West Indies impressed captain Clive Lloyd who helped Patterson secure a contract with his team Lancashire, in the 1985 English County Championship.
Lewis recalls a different Patrick Patterson returning for the 1986 Shell Shield.
“He was bigger, fitter. You could see the experience playing in England gave him more confidence,” said Lewis.
Patterson played 28 Tests, finishing with 93 wickets at a respectable average of 30.90. He was dropped after the West Indies tour of Australia in 1992, his last series for the Caribbean team.
He has become a recluse and is rarely seen in public. A team from the Indian Express newspaper visited Jamaica in 2013, hoping to get an interview with Patterson, but was unsuccessful.
Their feature said he had also refused visits from high-profile figures, including Richards and then Jamaica prime minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Lewis last spoke to Patterson by phone on his 54th birthday in September. He was in good spirits.
“We trying to get him to come out more, make him less aloof,” said Lewis.