Today marks the 80th birthday of legendary West Indian fast bowler Wes Hall.
Hall laid the groundwork for the fearsome West Indian quicks in the 1980’s by being one of the greatest bowlers that the West Indies discovered.
Born in St Michael, Barbados on September 12, 1937 Hall started his cricketing career in junior school where he started off as a wicketkeeper/batsman. His conversion to bowling and quick bowling in particular didn’t come until quite late. He was included in the West Indoies squad that toured England in 1957 despite having played just one first class match. However, despite his inexperience his talent was undeniable. He made his fully fledged international debut for the Windies in 1958 against India and had instant success collecting figures of 3-35 and 1-72 in the match. His first innings scalps included Nari Contractor, Pankaj Roy and Vijay Manjrekar.
In only his second test match, Hall was tasked with leading the West Indies attack and duly delivered by collecting 11 wickets as the West Indies romped to victory over the hapless Indians.
Success continued to follow him in the series against Pakistan. His first hatrick of his career in the third test made many people stand up and realise this 6 foot 5 kid from Barbados was an awesome talent.
Hall however, is most known for his performances in Australia where he was involved in the infamous tied test in 1960. He was tasked with bowling the final over with Australia needing four runs and the Windies requiring three wickets. Hall had Richie Benaud caught behind and then combined to run out two Australians as the match finished as a compelling draw.
Perhaps Hall’s finest hour came in 1962 when the Indians toured the Caribbean. Looking to pick up where he left off two years prior, Hall collected 27 wickets at a meager average of 15. The West Indies again won the series and Hall’s fantastic efforts were rewarded with the number one ranking in test bowling.
His fantastic performances started to wane however as years of non-stop cricket took its toll on the body of Hall. His final test series was that against Australia and New Zealand in 1968-69.
Hall retired with a fantastic record of 192 test wickets at an average of 26.38
Hall achieved considerable success after cricket by moving into politics. He served in both the Senate in Barbados as well as the Minister for Tourism in the lower house.
Hall also worked on a variety of humanitarian projects including support for villages stricken by poverty in the Caribbean.
Happy 80th Wesley.
The picture of Wesley Hall in full flow as he ran towards the wicket is still treasured in the memories of all but the opposing batsman—and maybe in theirs as well.