Remembered: Former Players, Friends Pay Tribute To Ralston Otto

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By Neto Baptiste

Former players and friends of the late Ralston Otto are remembering the former national and Leeward Islands middle-order batsman as one with a vast knowledge and understanding of the game following his passing on Friday.

Otto, who was 65, died at his home in Freeman’s Village on Friday. Reports are that he was found unresponsive on his bathroom floor by a family member sometime after 5pm.

Former West Indies fast bowler, Kenneth Benjamin, spoke of Otto’s drive and passion for the youths while remembering him for his no-nonsense approach to the game.

“I think Ralston played both spin and pace well and he was a very good middle order batsman and a very good sportsman all round. I think Ralston had a lot of time for the youngsters and would speak generally about some of the things they require to do but he was a firm person,” he said.

“I can remember him taking the team off the field in 1988 when the umpire in Trinidad called Curtly Ambrose for a no-ball and nobody knew what the call was all about, and he said we were coming off the field. So, his life is going to be long remembered for his contribution that he made, not just in cricket but in general,” he added. 

Former national and Leeward Islands player Zorol Barthley, who spearheaded a fundraising walk for Otto back in 2019, said the former player would have touched the lives of many young players during his tenure as a coach.

“It took me by surprise, but just to say it’s a life well lived because 65 years he would have contributed greatly to the uplifting of youths through the schools system when he worked at the Ministry of Sports. I think the outpouring of love and support we would have seen a couple of years back when we hosted that walk for him, that showed testimony to the way in which Antigua people felt about Ralston Otto. Condolences to his family and to his children; we’ve lost a good one,” he said. 

Meanwhile, former West Indies wicketkeeper batsman Ridley Jacobs, who was one of many to be coached by Otto, said he was shocked when he received news of his death.

“He is someone I am really close to when I used to play and he was the captain [of the national team]. Even when I travelled and come back I would go to him as a coach and he would work on my wicket-keeping skills and reflexes and playing with him, he was a very good motivator,” he said.

“I am very shaken by the news because I was always thinking I needed to go and see him but I knew the situation with Covid. I’ve never really gone there as I should but this one really hit me hard and I hope that his family and close friends will stay strong for each other and God will continue to guide and protect them,” Jacobs added.

Otto, also a former footballer and football coach, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2014.  He played 48 First Class matches and 29 List A matches during his career.

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