Adrian St John - a lovely man, a fine cricketer, a leader of men
The death of Adrian St John late last week in Trinidad has shocked and saddened the cricket community, with his loss particularly keenly felt in North London, where he was a valued member of the Chris Gayle Academy.
St John joined the academy when it launched in 2013 and as a Level 2 coach, was part of the academy’s summer coaching team.
Two days after learning of his passing, the current Academy members came together at the ground where he last represented them to pay their respects and celebrate his life on and off the cricket field.
The players gathered to observe a minute’s silence in his honour and then shared memories of their former captain.
“Regardless of how well you knew him, even if you'd only met him once, you already knew how nice a guy he was,” Joe Emmanuel (left) remembers.
“Whenever I was with him he was always joking about something,” he added.
“I remember a game against the Darren Lehmann Academy, when he was umpiring.
"I remember him being fun, making jokes, and having a laugh,” adds Tanveer Shah (below left).
Under the tutelage of Chris Gayle Academy director Donovan Miller, St John captained the squad, also playing for Alleyn Cricket Club.
He then represented the University of Hertfordshire, from where he had recently graduated and taken a job in recruitment.
“He was with us for three years,” Miller says. “The aim of the academy is to have the guys here for a year but Adrian has been around for three because of what he gave to the guys. He gave a lot to everyone.
“He was always coming back and asking if he could help out and we gave him lots of responsibility where he was managing teams, umpiring games, even taking time off work to be with us.
“Even though he would have preferred to have been playing, he was happy to go out there and umpire, and that sums up the sort of person he was.”
On the field, Miller, pictured with St John on the left, and the academy members rated him very highly.
“He was a very very good player. He was just so relaxed before games, nothing fazed him. He was always happy and ready to go.
“He was an athlete and that's what made him such a good player.
“He was a fine batsman, but he could bowl a bit of medium pace, a bit of spin and was an excellent fielder - he could field anywhere.”
“He always wanted to take on the responsibility of doing a job for the team, whether that was bowling the last over or opening the batting - he was one of those types of guys.
“When things weren't going as well he was the first one to put his arm round lads and gee them up.”
“I was looking forward to playing with him this year,” Nikhil Nomula (left) says.
“I remember when I first came to the academy, that (fellow Academy member) Jose was talking about guys like Adrian, how good they were, and how welcome they make you feel.
“Hearing the news has taken me aback.”
The leadership qualities described by Miller above have left a lasting impression on current members, many of whom he took time to help out when they first arrived, including Nabeel Aziz and Vikrant Kanna Venkatasan.
“When I first joined the Academy he was the only person that I knew so it was nice to see a familiar face,” Aziz (left) remembers.
“He was someone who was really relaxed and he helped me settle in.
“It was nice to have someone like that. He was someone who was always bubbly in the changing room, a big character in the team, and he was really good for me.”
Venkatasan (below left) shares a similar story: “He was one of the first guys to come and talk to me at the academy.
The fund-raising page set up by family and friends, and supported by the Chris Gayle Foundation, has already raised over £10,000 which will support the family.
“For people to donate that amount of money shows how loved he was,” Miller says.
“The Chris Gayle Foundation will also be making a donation which will go straight to the family. No amount of money will bring him back but it at least ensures the family have everything they need to give him an appropriate farewell."
“He helped me settle down, told me stuff about what to do and what not to do in this country, which was really nice.
“It's really sad that we have lost him.”
Miller, who knew St John well and became a mentor for him, says he was a lovely person, a sentiment that was echoed in social media posts by others who knew and played alongside him, including club and university team-mates.
“Everyone has seen all the lovely things that have been said about him and been written about him so that just goes to show what a lovely person he was,” he said.
“It can be tough as a young person to study, to balance studies, cricket and work but Adrian managed to do those three very well.
“He managed all three, finishing his degree, working, and committing to cricket as well.
“Most people would have struggled and may have had to leave something out, or not been able to commit properly.”
Miller has been in touch with St John’s parents, and says his Mum will soon be heading out to Trinidad to start making funeral arrangements and bring his body home.
Later in the year, the academy plans to host a match in his memory, and will continue to support his family in any way they can.
“Adrian was a shining example of everything we at the Chris Gayle Academy stand for and are trying to achieve,” Miller said.
“He was always happy to improve his life skills and his work commitments.
“Adrian matched the profile of everything we stand for and the type of young people we target in every aspect.
“It's dreadfully sad that we are talking about him in this way but we and his parents all want to make sure he is remembered for all the good things he did and the good person he was.”
Adrian St John (third from right, back row) with the academy in 2013
© Cricket World 2016