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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
From legend to leader
Colin Croft offers a personal view of the impending election of West Indies Cricket Board president elect Wes Hall.
By now, all concerned will know there has been only one nomination from the entire Caribbean for the vacant post of West Indies Cricket Board president.
The sole recommendation, from the representatives of Trinidad & Tobago and Barbados, is former fast bowler The Reverend Wesley Winfield Hall.
Just thinking about that situation makes me cringe, maybe even angry.
While I have tremendous respect for Wes Hall, are we in the Caribbean suggesting that there is only one person among seven and a half million of us who is capable of being the president of the West Indies Cricket Board?
What about Guyana, the Windward Islands, the Leeward Islands and Jamaica? Do they not have any voice at all?
The West Indies Cricket Board encompasses all of the English-speaking Caribbean, and has one purpose, to hopefully produce the best cricket fraternity in the world - a situation that has so far been far from adequately achieved.
So what of the lone nominee, Wesley Winfield Hall.
Perhaps Herschelle Gibbs, the effervescent South African opening batsman, puts it best.
When asked whom he thought were the most well known and important persons to West Indies cricket ever, Gibbs replied: "Of course, you are speaking about 'The three W's' - Frank Worrell, Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott - and Wes Hall!!"
The man is definitely a cricket legend
He was the first of that long line of tremendous West Indian fast bowlers and it was for him more than anyone else that England's, John Arlott, perhaps the sport's best commentator ever, coined the term "Pace Like Fire".
Many cricket followers will remember that Hall bowled the last over, then eight balls, in the first ever tied Test between the West Indies and Australia at Brisbane in 1961.
Hall and his Barbadian fast bowling counterpart, Charlie Griffith, also decimated England in 1963.
My own memory of Wes Hall is, as an 11-year-old seeing my first Test match, at the Bourda Oval in Georgetown in 1965.
One particular incident in that game stands out for me.
The game was held up for about fifteen minutes when Hall, bowling flat out, lost his gold chain which carried a crucifix.
Eventually the chain was found at the top of his bowling mark, and Hall, annoyed, distressed and agitated, made Australia regret it.
Since then, he has become The Reverend Wes Hall, a fully ordained minister, a highly spiritual man.
Hall has also held several posts in the Barbadian Government, culminating in his being a Minister of the Government with two portfolios, Sport and Tourism.
He has also been a senior executive of the tourism and travel conglomerate, Sandals International.
'The Rev' one of the more flamboyant personalities, cricketing or otherwise, in the Caribbean.
Ironically, when the West Indies Cricket Board had its most recent elections, when the now resigned president Patrick Rousseau and his deputy, Clarvis Joseph, were re-appointed, Wes Hall ran for the position of vice president.
History will show that Rousseau and Joseph won handily, but there has been the open suggestion that had Hall run for the top post instead of accepting second fiddle, he would have won hands down.
In my mind, the only real blot on Wes Hall resumé, is his continued ability, maybe propensity, to sound and sometimes act like a consummate politician.
West Indies cricket does not need that now. Transparency is necessary in these turbulent times.
The West Indies Cricket Board must be accountable to the people it represents, but in my lifetime, it never has.
Depressingly, I do not expect that situation to change. The head may change, but the body still rots.
Few can forget the acrimonious West Indies cricket tour to England in 1995.
That tour, in my mind, saw the West Indies team start to sink, perhaps nose-dive, to being the lowly placed cricketing entity it is today.
The manager of that team was West Hall.
Never before in the history of West Indies cricket weer so many negatives brought out in a single tour. It was like locomotive at full tilt out of control.
Brian Lara left the team twice, Winston Benjamin was sent home and Richie Richardson was so undermined by his senior players, it was the beginning of the end of his captaincy.
Richardson is a truly decent man and deserved better.
Yet Hall, in my mind, did much more damage than good by trying to shuffle the team's problems under the table.
He presented the impression that the team remained a cohesive unit when it was clear the team was imploding.
We can only hope the 'closed shop' of the West Indies Cricket Board of the last decade or so does not continue, but I am not holding my breath.
It has become perhaps the most political body in the Caribbean, and, I am afraid, will be led by a politician, even if he is one with great credibility in the cricket world.
I wish the Reverend Wes Hall all the luck in the world, but he will have his work cut out for him.
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