Alford Corriette was not just a brilliant cricketer. He was a beautiful cricketer. Handsome, lean and pristine, he made the game look easy, molding a sterling but abbreviated career before going into seclusion and becoming a virtual mystique.
“He was an elegant player, pretty to look at, easy on the eyes,” says friend and former teammate Basil Morgan, who knew Corriette since 1966. “He was a student of the game and one of the best cricketers Montserrat has ever produced.”
Corriette, widely considered Montserrat’s greatest all-rounder, passed away early Monday, January 2, 2023, at his home in Brooklyn, New York. He was 74 years old.
Corriette is the second former Montserrat player to die within a week. On December 29, 2022, Salem native Reuel Dyer – a spin bowler and aggressive batsman for Montserrat in the 1950s and ’60s – passed away in England at age 86.
During the 1970s, Corriette and teammate Jim Allen became Caribbean cricket stars, both playing for Leeward Islands, then for Combined Islands, which at the time was just one step away from the prestigious West Indies team.
“Jim and Corriette” will forever be linked, not only because their talents and tenures coincided, but because they symbolized the town vs. country status quo that once defined Montserrat’s social paradigm. Corriette, who was light-skinned, grew up in the heart of Plymouth. Jim, who is dark-skinned, hailed from rural Harris Village in the East.
Alford Ferdinand Christopher Corriette was born August 23, 1948 in a devoutly Catholic family. He was the sixth of eight children and the only boy. His father Charles, who was originally from Dominica with roots in Martinique, was a house painter. His mother Mary was a seamstress. His dad addressed him affectionately as “Alli” but close friends called him “Drofla” – a nickname he acquired at school. It’s Alford spelled backward.
The family lived on George Street near the St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church and St. Augustine Catholic School, on whose dusty fields Alford honed his cricket skills. In the late 1960s, Corriette began playing for Malvern, a league team based in Plymouth. His teammates included his neighbor, Haycene Ryan, plus Sylvester “Nul” Greenaway of nearby Cherry Village, Roosevelt Jemmotte and Bennette Roach. All would end up playing for the Montserrat team. Ryan passed away in 2012 and Greenaway in 2018.
In 1970, Corriette was selected to the Montserrat team. After a stellar 1972 season, he was picked for the Leeward Islands and Combined Islands teams. “Combined Islands” was a team comprised of the best players from the Leeward and Windward Islands. It was formed in order to field a more competitive squad against the heavyweight teams from Trinidad, Barbados, Jamaica and Guyana.
Corriette’s best year in cricket came in 1973. In early February, he scored 113 not out for Combined Islands against host Trinidad in the annual Shell Shield tournament. On February 24, he top-scored for Leeward Islands against the mighty Australians during a tour match in Antigua. Legendary fast bowler Dennis Lillee ripped through the Leewards top order, clean-bowling Nevis’ Vance Amory and Antigua’s Veron Edwards on consecutive deliveries. He intimidated some of the batsmen, but Corriette stood firm and scored 81 runs. He called that day “the proudest moment of my career.” That summer, he scored 116 for Montserrat in a victory against Nevis at Sturge Park (See article below).
‘JIM AND CORRIETTE’
Corriette and Allen were the top players on the Montserrat team in the 1970s and assumed the burden of expectations on an often dysfunctional squad. In late 1974, the two spent six weeks in London attending the Alf Gover Cricket School. The Montserrat Sports Association raised funds to send the two players to the renowned cricket academy, hoping it would elevate their careers. Corriette and Allen traveled together and lodged together, but they were never buddies.
“To tell you the truth, we were not very close,” says Allen, now 71 and living in Montserrat. “But he was a good all-rounder and a good team man.”
Allen, Montserrat’s wicket-keeper for several years, was once asked which bowler for Montserrat could generate the most pace. He surprisingly said it was Corriette, who was listed as a medium-pace bowler. “He could bowl off a short run or long run,” Allen says. “He had a good bouncer and he was very deceptive in his bowling.”
Morgan says Corriette was a crafty batsman. “He didn’t really swing the bat hard. He was more of a touch player. He was the best Montserrat player against spin bowling and the first player I’ve seen use the reverse sweep. Also, I’ve never seen that man drop a catch.”
Morgan recalls another interesting aspect about Corriette: “When we played, most of us had only one uniform. Corriette would have about five. If he got any dirt on his uniform, he would change his clothes.”
In Corriette’s final match for Montserrat in 1976 against Antigua, he took 7 wickets for 27 runs in the first innings. He finished his Montserrat career with three centuries: 116 vs. Nevis in 1973, 125 at St. Kitts in 1974, and 103 not out against Nevis in 1976. He also scored a superb 90 against St. Kitts in 1975 at Sturge Park as Montserrat suffered a heartbreaking 26-run loss. By the way, Corriette and Allen are the only players in Montserrat history to hit first-class centuries.
After the 1976 season, Corriette abruptly retired – one month shy of his 28th birthday. In 2016, he stated that he had “no regrets” about leaving the game in his prime. After cricket, he continued his regular job working as an electrician with his brother-in-law. One former teammate says Corriette never returned to Sturge Park – Montserrat’s home field – after he retired, not even for non-cricket events.
ON TO AMERICA
In November of 1982, Corriette migrated to New York. He first lived with a relative on Long Island, then moved to Brooklyn, where he lived ever since. He became increasingly reclusive but would sometimes hang out with fellow Montserratians on his porch during Labor Day carnival.
“He was a very private person,” says elder sister Joselyn Corriette. “He didn’t even like to take pictures.”
During his time in New York, Corriette worked as a plumber and electrician. Many transplanted West Indians, including Montserratians, have participated in a cricket league in New York since the 1960s. When Corriette migrated, they tried to recruit him but he declined. Longtime friends also said they tried in vain to reconnect with Corriette.
Although his cricket career concluded almost a half-century ago, Corriette’s legacy continues in the form of his great-nephew, current Montserrat all-rounder Jemuel Cabey.
Corriette’s cause of death has not been revealed, but a relative said he had been battling a chronic illness for some time. On Sunday night, Jan. 1, 2023, he went to bed and was in great spirits, according to family. The next morning, he was found unresponsive.
“He and I were very close,” sister Joselyn said. “There were eight [siblings] and he followed me [in the order]. He and I talked sometimes three times a day. He loved talking about politics. He would always keep me up to date. We spoiled him when we were growing up, probably because he was the only boy. We adored him. Everybody is taking it very hard.”
Corriette is survived by his son Anton, grand-daughters Alia and Ashleigh, his sisters Joselyn, Marie, Clarice, Bernadette and Jacinta, and many other relatives.
Editor’s note: Corriette’s funeral service was held Saturday, January 14, 2023 at Roman Catholic Church of St. Gregory The Great in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Read more about Alford Corriette’s life and career in the book Stranded Batsman: The Jim Allen Story, available at Amazon. CLICK HERE.
CLICK HERE to see Corriette’s first-class statistics.