Updated: Jan 26
Born 21st May 1951, died of COPD 9th November 2020 aged 69
I write this on a beautiful sunny day in the Algarve. It is an absolute honour that I have been asked by the family to say some things about my brother’s life. Tomorrow morning you are gathered together to celebrate Robin’s life and I am envious and sad not to be with you in the celebration.
Our parents met and married in 1943 and Robin was born in 1951. From an early age Robin was ‘his own man’ He had a quiet, independent demeanour preferring to make decisions for himself rather than be told what to do.
From this early age I could tell that, with his superb hand eye coordination he had every chance of becoming an excellent ‘ballistic skills’ sportsman. He spent countless hours hitting balls thrown by whoever was around, parents, gardener, and poor Harry his younger brother who not only had to throw balls but then find and gather them from all parts of the garden while Robin worked on honing his stroke technique. You never saw Robin bowling, something which would come back to bite him later in life.
He was in trouble on his first day at Prince Edward School. One of my fellow prefects caught him whispering to his cousin Gordon Fletcher at Assembly and he was hauled into the prefects study for 4 dookswith the tackie - to my great amusement. He became an instrumental member of the A teams in Cricket and Rugby. The Rugby team never lost a game in 4 years and Robin and his close school friend Danny Pretorius were promoted to the 1st team half way through the U16 season in 1967. His exploits on the cricket field were legendary. Nic Erskine said he never saw anyone hit the ball so hard in all his years as a coach. Robin played for the National Schools sides in Cricket and Rugby in 1967 and 1968 and was also selected for the SA Schools side in 1968 before leaving school aged17 at Easter 1969.
In 1970 Rhodesia Cricket recognised his talent and organised and funded a 3 year contract for Robin with Worcestershire County Cricket. Unfortunately, to the astonishment of his family and of the Cricket authorities he never took up the offer.
By this time Robin had joined Standard Chartered Finance and was transferred to Mutare and played cricket for Manicaland. He met up with John Jameson, the England opening batsmen and they became good friends and drinking buddies. Between John and Brian Davison Robin was persuaded to join Leicestershire County Cricket in 1974. He had a very successful 2 seasons making more runs than David Gower who went on to have a great England career. On the weekends Robin travelled North to Bacup in the Lancashire League. Essentially the Lancashire League was made up of 14 amatuer village sides with only 1 professional player. The Pro was expected to bowl 18 of the 35 eight ball overs. In the first game Robin was instructed to take the new ball. He refused pleading he wasn’t a bowler. The captain insisted he bowl but when the 1st over went for plenty with a variety of long hops, wides and full tosses he was quickly removed from the attack never to bowl again. Luckily for him he made plenty of runs, at one time threatening the great Sir Everton Weeks record. He did so well that he was engaged for a second season despite having only one string to his bow although he was an outstanding fielder.
On his return to Rhodesia in the late seventies he joined the newly formed Standard Bank team who boasted Jack Heron and Jimmy Mitchel amongst other fine cricketers. He made a century against an international touring team and quickly challenged for a place in the National team. Unfortunately this early promise didn’t materialise in a good national career and only played a handful of National games. This didn’t seem to faze him and he retired from serious cricket well before the age of 30.
He was then spending more time with his family and two sons and developed his career in Finance rising to No2 to Brian Vickerstaffe the MD at Standard Chartered Finance. On his retirement from Finance he set up a business constructing Tennis Courts and and took over the Barrett Tennis Court franchise.
We celebrate Robin’s life today. Although cut short early he has had more than a full life of experiences. In the last month, in spite of illness, he insisted on a family visit Hwange and his beloved Kariba.
If he fell short of achieving his full potential on the sports field, he more than compensated in his family life. He was a good father and husband and a calm influence on his family in difficult times. He was a very kind person, understated, loving, and with a great sense of humour and a wry smile.
A smoke and a drink were never far away and he lived his life to the full. His glass was always full to overflowing.
A life well lived with no regrets.
Written by his brother Gwynne Jones