Mere hours after Runako Morton passed away following a vehicular accident late Sunday night, social media were buzzing with tributes for the former Leewards Islands, Trinidad and Tobago and West Indies batsman.
Morton was returning home to Princes Town after celebrating victory with his Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) teammates over T&TEC in the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) National League Premier Division.
But for all Morton's publicised disciplinary woes, the 33-year-old cricketer seems to have been immensely popular, given the outpouring of support and commiseration that followed the news of his death.
Morton had his share of disciplinary issues, as he was dropped from the regional cricket academy and the West Indies team for various transgressions during his international career.
He last played for T&T in their March 11-14 regional four-day match against the Leeward Islands last year, during which he and Leewards player Tonito Willett were arrested for marijuana possession after breaking team curfew.
But yesterday, Bryan Davis, longstanding cricket administrator at Queen’s Park, remembered the other side of Morton.
Davis described Morton—who ironically bagged a pair during the weekend clash with T&TEC—as a “tremendous inspiration...(with) great fighting spirit”, and a “great team man”.
The Internet was also alive with people trying to confirm Morton’s passing on cricket forums, blogs, Facebook and especially Twitter, and then with consolatory messages.
In poured condolences to Morton’s family and West Indies cricket from journalists, cricketers and fans alike, both regional and internationally.
On Twitter, the troubled but talented right-hander was described as “one of the best” West Indies players, as “a top cricketer”, “too young, very sad” and an “underrated” cricketer by fans.
Among Morton’s former cricketing colleagues, ex-West Indies captain Chris Gayle felt regional cricket lost a “true warrior” and current Windies captain Darren Sammy hailed him as a “cricket warrior”, while T&T and West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was “shocked and saddened” at his death.
Justin Guillen, Morton’s skipper at Queen’s Park, said the Nevis-born cricketer was “gone too soon”, former England player and commentator David Lloyd was “very sad”, as were Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and England batting star Kevin Pietersen.
The West Indies Cricket Board, T&T Cricket Board and QPCC, as well as the Ministry of Sport, all issued releases honouring Morton and his contributions to local and regional cricket, and regional sponsor Digicel tweeted its “heartfelt condolences”.
Below are selected tweets that emerged yesterday from cricketing personalities:
Darren Sammy (West Indies captain)
A cricket warrior gone, but not forgotten…Played every game hard…Condolences to his family and friends…RIP Runako Morton…
Chris Gayle (former West Indies skipper)
We lost a true warrior WI cricketer Runako Morton-May his soul rest in peace! Our memories together live on!-My Condolences to his Family.
(T&T, West Indies all-rounder)
RIP Runako Morton. Shocked and saddened at the loss of my former WI teammate
(T&T, West Indies opener)
Condolences to the family of Runako Morton, gone too soon. RIP
Justin Guillen (QPCC captain)
RIP Runako Morton. Gone far too soon. Lost for words…
Kenny Williams (cricketer, Barbados)
RIP Runako Morton didn’t get chance to tell u thanks for everything when I was TT blessed love bredd until we meet again. Tears
(England international cricketer)
My thoughts go out to Runako Morton’s family this morning…Such sad news!! What a lovely guy & fierce competitor!! RIP bossman!!!
(England international cricketer)
Very sad to hear about Runako Morton’s tragic death. My deepest condolences to his friends and family. RIP Morton.
(India international cricketer)
Very sad to hear about the death of Runako Morton. He was a good friend and fine cricketer. My condolences to his family. RIP Runako.
(New Zealand international cricketer)
Sad to hear the news of West Indian cricketer Runako Morton passing away in a car accident! Terrible news. RIP/p