He seemed indestructible once but now there’s a fragility about the West Indian whose 100mph pace and relentless swing propelled him into cricket’s pantheon more than half a century ago.
Sir Wes Hall relies on a stick – and friends – for the balance he always displayed when soaring into his delivery stride, the gold cross around his neck trailing out behind him as he went: a ‘ballet dancer’ as someone once called him.
Yet for just a moment in Tuesday’s late afternoon light, as he gazed across the pitch at Accrington Cricket Club, the 80-year-old’s human limitations seem to melt away.
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He ducks under the perimeter rope and is off, hobbling out on his own to the square where, for three seasons in the early 1960s, he would run in with the wind at his back. (He arrived from the Highams End, named after a local cotton manufacturer. It accentuated his swing, he always felt).
Those who are here to chaperone Sir Wes see that he has gone and set off in panicked pursuit. Everyone fears a fall. But he is already halfway out to the middle, prodding the turf with his stick.
As they reach him, he asks: ‘Why you worryin’?’ – wearing the big smile of a man who has found lost treasure: long-buried memories of a time and place which are suddenly flooding back.
Bringing him back here was an irresistible, if remote, notion when Sir Wes expressed such a wish in the recent BBC documentary ‘Race and Pace’, which told the extraordinary story of how West Indian Test players at the very top of the world game ended up in small former mill towns to play Lancashire League cricket.
Accrington’s population was only about 30,000 at the time: in modern football terms, this was akin to Cristiano Ronaldo pitching up at fifth-tier Fylde FC on the Lancashire coast.