"He fitted in perfectly to the Accrington environment even though it was an enormous culture-shock. I think the first thing he bought was a mackintosh!"
Last Updated: 23/04/20 8:29pm
Who did the Sky Sports Cricket pundits idolise growing up? Every Monday, we will be asking one of our experts for their cricketing hero and this week it's Bumble's turn...
I spent my formative years at Accrington Cricket Club where we had some fantastic professionals.
I'm talking about the likes of Bobby Simpson, Wes Hall, Eddie Barlow and a lovely Indian chap called SK Girdhari who finished up working for the NHS up in Lancaster.
SK was a real gent and a good coach but Wes captured the imagination. He was our pro from 1960-62 and he was an enormous fella, let me tell you.
As you'd expect from a West Indies opening bowler he was fast and a formidable sight as he ran in with his shirt open and a chain flying around his neck.
His run-up was huge - he'd run for miles! He knew he was fast and wanted to bowl even faster.
Our ground is very short straight at one end and at times I remember our wicketkeeper Jack Collier would be almost stood on the boundary to take the ball.
In the Lancashire League back then there was a strong West Indies contingent - you had the likes of Charlie Griffith, Chester Watson, Charlie Stayers and, of course, we had Wes.
Wes took an average of about five wickets a game - and twice took 10 in a match, against Bacup and then Burnley, on his way to 329 wickets in his three league seasons. But Charlie Griffith was also flying so we only won the league in 1961!
Michael Atherton has just sent me through some archive film from back then featuring Everton Weekes - one of the 'three Ws' - who played at Bacup.
It is absolutely staggering seeing the crowds in attendance. I'm not kidding - these are Test match crowds at league grounds. There are thousands and thousands of people there.
Wes was a super character who embraced everything about league cricket. He had a wonderful manner with him and a fantastic sense of humour.
He fitted in perfectly to the Accrington environment even though it was an enormous culture shock. I think the first thing he bought was a mackintosh!
Wes would go to people's houses for fish and chips. He took a shine to me - he knew that I was mad-keen to play - and he took me to my first Test match along with Roy Gilchrist, of all people.
It was at Trent Bridge; it was a hell of an adventure because we went in a car and I think Roy drove.
Wes toured Australia in 1960/61 and brought back a bat and gave it to me - it was a Norman O'Neill autograph bat, made by Crockett. Norm was a number four for Australia, who Wes played against.
It was broken at the bottom - there was a crack - but that didn't matter. As I recall that was my first bat. It was a gimmee.
I was a tiny little lad at 13 - and a bowler too - and this bat was obviously too big for me so I cut the broken bit off the bottom. It split in half in the end.
A year or so later I actually made my debut with Wes. That was against Rishton and I got 3-24 in four or five overs and I was number 11 batter. I might have played in shorts!
A couple of years ago we got a call from the Barbados High Commissioner saying that Wes wanted to come back to the cricket club.
We got it all arranged and we had 'An Evening with Wesley Hall' in 2017.
Wes might have been about 80 and on sticks but when he arrived he still wanted to mark his run-up out! It was magnificent.
He still had a wicked sense of humour and he remembered people. There was one guy there who was 100 - Ted Marshall he was called. Ted died in 2018, sadly.
Wes clicked once again with everyone immediately and he had a wonderful time. He stayed in local digs with Mrs Stark, a stone's throw from the ground.
He remains a cricket man; he's also a church man and is very religious - and he's a proper Bajan too because he loves talking and debating on any subject! He'd give Michael Holding a run for his money!
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