The Cayman Islands cricket fraternity marked the 10th anniversary of the passing of young cricketer Daniel Richlin Morris on Tuesday.
Morris was five days short of his 22nd birthday when he passed away in a Miami hospital on Sept. 22, 2005 from a rare blood disorder in his brain.
He was first taken ill in July 2005 and was admitted to Miami’s Baptist Hospital but never recovered.
A brilliant batsman and all-around sportsman, Morris, a policeman, is remembered for his playful character and exemplary values.
The By-Rite Cricket team was a part of Morris’s life for most of it. A few of the By-Rite cricketers were coaches for the George Town Under-15 district cricket team where they first encountered the instantly likeable youngster.
Morris often went to By-Rite’s training ground off Melmac Avenue with his schoolboy friends Jalon Linton, Troy Taylor and Omar Bryan.
It was natural, then, that when Morris decided to play for a first division team, he decided on By-Rite.
A few years later, Morris approached By-Rite owners Chris and David Wight, who are twins, to let them know that he was planning to become a police officer.
He was a little worried because he had formed a close bond with the brothers and was concerned that they would be upset because this would mean playing for the police team.
Morris need not have worried because the Wights wanted what was best for him, and they encouraged him to follow his dreams.
Chris Wight was a longtime coach of Morris, aka Massive, during his Under-15 days and especially his U-19 days, and went on international tours with the youngster as player and coach.
When Morris fell ill and had to go to Miami, the twins visited him often, encouraging him to fight and telling him that everyone was waiting for him to come home and resume playing.
On a visit that turned out to be their last, two weeks before Morris passed away, when the twins were saying goodbye, they told him that they were leaving but coming back soon to take him home to the cricket field.
They saw tears running down his cheeks and his lips were shaking as though he wanted to say something, and they realized that he had understood them.
Morris remains one of Cayman cricket’s great youth development success stories. Chris Wight said, “He was very dedicated and never missed practice or training sessions unless for work. He was a good listener and exceptional learner, and his massive presence and enthusiasm on the cricket field has never been replaced.”
Theo Cuffy, Cricket Cayman’s technical director, said, “Oh, how time flies! It seems like only yesterday that I would hear Daniel say his favorite ‘cool nah, coach.’
“Of course, that’s because I was not pleased about something. He was one of Cayman’s brightest young cricketers, a hard-hitting opening batsman and dynamic fielder.
“My memory recalls him sprinting around the long-on boundary and taking a one-handed catch in Miami and hitting those massive sixes at Jimmy Powell Oval.
“More than his cricketing skills, he had a pleasing personality with an insatiable appetite for knowledge. Cayman cricket so fondly remembers you, Daniel. RIP, youth.”
Morris’s mother, Annie Fairclough, said her son loved many sports and one particular fond memory was when she got a phone call the day he scored the winning goal from midfield for Savannah Primary School and she could hear all the supporters cheering.
When he developed a passion for cricket around the age of 13, Fairclough defied the banter from people who saw her every Saturday morning, walking with her son in the blazing sun from Crewe Road near the Lions Centre all the way to Smith Road Oval, where she would bowl balls to him for batting practice.
The extra practice certainly worked because Morris became a phenomenal batsman, smashing balls all over the place, often hitting parked and passing vehicles.
When Fairclough bought a van and attended matches to watch her son, he insisted that she park far enough away to ensure it was not damaged by one of his big hits.
“He was a wonderful child, not only in sports but also in life,” she said, adding that he is sadly missed by his sisters Donna Marie Ebanks and Axanthie Litchmore.