A humble guy and prolific batsman
Albert Donawa has been hailed as a “brilliant player” who maintained high standards throughout a remarkable cricket career.
The former Somerset Cup Match batsman and selector, the father of past Bermuda Half-Marathon winner Jay Donawa, died last Friday because of complications from Parkinson's Disease. He was aged 74.
Donawa's cricket career started in his native Antigua playing for Rising Sun Cricket Club.
He joined Somerset after moving to Bermuda in the 1960s where he played an integral role in helping the club achieve multiple league and cup honours.
“He [Donawa] played a big part when we won the league in the late sixties,” said Joe Bailey, the former Somerset captain and brother-in-law of Donawa.
“Somerset had a team that did very well in the league and against touring teams throughout the 1970s. I think we were triple crown champions three times and he played a big part.
“He was a batsman first of all and went on to become our second string wicketkeeper. We mostly used him as a batsmen.”
Donawa eventually broke into Somerset's Cup Match team as a batsman and had the honour of representing them in the first classic played on turf, which the West End club hosted in 1971.
“He did very well in that Cup Match and I think he made 40-something,” Bailey said. “He batted very well against Clarence Parfitt [St George's left-arm seam bowler]. I remember him hitting Parfitt through mid-off for four.
“He could have went in Cup Match as a wicketkeeper but we had other people in mind.”
John Tucker, who also captained Somerset both in the league and in Cup Match, added: “Donawa was a good batsman, particularly when he got going. He used to attack the ball and never liked to get tied down.
“He was aggressive but could also sit up and bat when he had to. He was a down to earth guy who knew the game. He spoke very well about the game and gave his opinions in the dressing room.”
Among the most memorable moments of Donawa's career was playing for a West Indies side, led by Sir Gary Sobers, when they toured Bermuda in the 1970s.
“The West Indies had played a Test series in England and a few of the players couldn't make it to Bermuda,” Bailey said, “so he and a few others were asked to represent the West Indies when they came to Bermuda and he accepted.”
Somerset were not the only team to benefit from Donawa's valued services as he also had a stint with Willow Cuts.
“He came to Willow Cuts from Somerset and was a very brilliant player to have in the team,” said Charles “Skeets” Fubler, the former Willow Cuts captain and godfather to one of Donawa's four children.
“He was a prolific batsman, very focused and was definitely a team player. Sometimes he opened the innings for us or came in at No 3.
“He kept stumps until we got a regular wicketkeeper and bowled occasionally.”
Donawa, a relative of late St George's Cup Match all-rounder Rupert Scotland, had a big influence on players such as Fubler's nephew, Dexter Basden.
“He always welcomed me and my brother [Richard] when we came to training and was well respected,” said Basden, who also captained Cuts and Somerset in Cup Match.
“I knew him as a wicketkeeper-batsman who mastered the hook shot. He was pretty to watch when it came to hooking and he was very aggressive.
“If anybody bowled short to him he would put you outside. He was short so getting inside to hook was easy for him and it was nice to watch.
“He was also funny and liked to make jokes. He always made the changing room comfortable with jokes.”
Donawa also had a spell serving on Somerset's Cup Match selection committee.
“He meant a lot to Somerset cricket and gave them a lot of service,” Bailey said. “He was a very humble guy who served Somerset very well.”