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Wesley Hall's hat-trick against Pakistan in 1959 stamped his class

CRICKET: 'Don't toss young players to the one-day game. I have seen many youngsters suffer'. These words of wisdom were spoken by one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time Wesley Hall. Born September 12, 1937, he is 71 years and 323 days old.


Wesley Hall - a hat-trick against Pakistan at Lahore in 1959.

He said that the batsmen are often confused about what they have to achieve. Even the professionals are not always able to sort out their priorities" the big man said.

Asked what he thought of the present mix of limited-overs cricket and Test cricket? Hall said, "It is easy to be dismissive of the limited-overs stuff but it is clear that it has a role to play in the financing of the game.

One cannot lose sight of that. But I am sure that the players would prefer to play the longer game anytime. That is the true test. Today, however, the one-day matches are vital for the professionals.

They bring in the money. That, however, does not mean the administration should go overboard. Countries like India and Australia have gone for one-day cricket - that is a legacy from Kerry Packer," said Hall.

Speaking about India, Hall said that India's performances have suffered because of an overdose of limited-over cricket.

The Indian batsmen play too quickly in Test matches. The batsmen are often confused about what they have to try to achieve. Even the professionals are not always able to sort out their priorities out.

Government minister

Wesley Hall was a Minister in the Government of Barbados. He was in charge of tourism and sports. It was not easy to match the image of the politician with that of the cricketer that Wesley Winfield Hall was. He was the rebel who wanted to bowl as quick as lightning. He was the man who wanted to enjoy the good things of life.

Hall was also a great fighter and has bowled his heart out in Test series. He did so against Australia and England under the captaincy of Frank Worrell, bowling over after over, never giving the batsmen a chance of taking full control.

"Toothpick"

Hall's success handed him a contract in Sheffield Shield cricket in Australia. He won the hearts of all cricket fans there and he has been doing just that all over the world. We have had Hall - the Entertainer whether he is bowling, batting or fielding.

It is however in batting that he is the real 'character'. The bat is like a "Toothpick" in his hand and he plays the ball with little concern - over style and technique.

But Hall is shrewd as well. He can put his head down and get behind when necessary. Several times he has come to the rescue of the West Indians, disguising his intension of staying at the wicket by clowning. Before the opponents are aware. he has collected his runs and helped to swell the total.

Then against Pakistan Wesley Hall had a memorable series in the 1959 encounters. One particular venue he will have happy memories is the Test played at Lahore where he had a hat-trick. The Pakistan batsmen who were in his hat-trick ring were: Mushtaq Mohammad, Fazal Mohammad and Nasim-ul-Ghani.

Altogether Hall played in 48 Tests, had 66 innings with 14 not outs, scored 818 runs, and in his bowling got him 192 wickets for an average of 26.38.

There was also a memorable series for Hall where India lost all five Tests in a Caribbean misadventure against Frank Worrell and his invincibles.

The destroyers were a terrible trio who were to spearhead numerous West Indian triumphs in the sixties - Wesley Hall 27 wickets at 15.74, Lance Gibbs 24 wickets at 20.41 and Garfield Sobers 23 wickets at 20.58.

Started as 'keeper'

For a decade Wes Hall terrified batsmen the world over. Muscular and tall (6ft 2ins) with a classical action, Hall presented a fearsome sight. A long, lithe approach ended with a fast and well-aimed delivery. He started his cricket career as a wicketkeeper-batsman but converted to a bowler when the regular opener for his club side failed to turn up. He took the new ball, six wickets, and never looked back.

He toured England in 1957 with only one first-class game to his name, but he struggled for form and with his run-up and looked unimpressive. Called into the side to tour India and Pakistan in 1958-59, he took 46 wickets in eight Tests, and he was a regular thereafter.

Tearaway thundering in at 85mph has caused panic among the batsmen. In addition to being fast, Hall has accuracy as well, the technique which he learned to perfection after a somewhat disappointing debut in the Tests against England in 1957. On that tour he sacrificed length and direction for sheer pace - and paid the penalty. From then on he concentrated on accuracy, together with speed and succeeded much to the dismay of all batsmen.

He also got a vicious bumper which he got to spring on the unsuspecting batsman.

When Hall played at the Colombo Oval, he thrilled the crowd with his bowling and his happy approach to batting - the approach that has given him many runs. Hall did not go flat out when he played in Sri Lanka (Ceylon as we were then called), but when Michael Tissera was heading for his century, he sent down a couple of fliers which Tissera countered well.

Then Hall - The Sportsman sent down a friendly ball which Tissera dispatched to the boundary to reach his well deserved century.

In Ceylon (Sri Lanka) he scored 44 runs in 40 minutes with his approach, hitting across the ball and getting away with it.

In the classic tied Test in 1961 at Brisbane he took 9 for 203, and bowled the last over with six runs were needed for victory with three wickets left. He took one wicket, dropped a crucial catch, and there were two run-outs.

Against India in 1961-62 he grabbed 27 wickets at 15.74 and in 1963, partnered by Charlie Griffith, he blasted England into defeat. At Lord's, in another epic finish, he bowled unchanged for three-and-a-half hours and took 4 for 93 (as well as breaking Colin Cowdrey's arm). In 1964-65 his 16 wickets were instrumental in guiding West Indies to their first series win over Australia, but by the time he toured England in 1966 the signs were there that he was on the wane.

He retired, along with his partner Griffith, at the end of the tour of Australia and New Zealand in 1968-69. An immensely popular man, he played two seasons for Queensland and the bulk of his career with Barbados (although that amounted to 13 matches in 15 seasons) with a few appearances for Trinidad in his twilight years. In retirement he became an ordained minister as well as a Minister of Tourism and Sports in the Barbados government. He also managed West Indies touring sides and in 2001 took over as president of the West Indies Board.

 

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