Cricket vets re­call the golden greats

Accrington Observer - - NEWS - JON MACPHER­SON

CRICK­ET­ING icons spoke fondly of their un­for­get­table mem­o­ries of Hyn­d­burn in a fas­ci­nat­ing doc­u­men­tary chart­ing one of cricket’s golden eras.

Former Ac­cring­ton and Rish­ton stars Sir Viv Richards and Sir Wes Hall fea­tured heav­ily in BBC pro­gramme ‘ Race and Pace: The West In­di­ans in East Lan­cashire’.

One of the most fa­mous play­ers to play at Ac­cring­ton Cricket Club was Hall, who signed in 1960.

The Bar­ba­dos fast bowler, who spent three sea­sons as a Lan­cashire League pro­fes­sional, said com­ing to Ac­cring­ton was ‘the defin­ing mo­ment’ in his life. He said: “I was away from home, had to live with peo­ple who were strangers and had to be the type of per­son that peo­ple loved to be around.

“I was like the fly in the co­conut ice cream - very, very, no­tice­able. I was very grate­ful that they were so good to me. We had a great time. The peo­ple were fan­tas­tic.”

Hall has formed life­long friend­ships with former team mates in Ac­cring­ton, in­clud­ing open­ing bowl­ing part­ner Jim Eland.

Jim suf­fers from Alzheimer’s but still re­calls his crick­et­ing days thanks to pho­tos and cut­tings.

Hall told the doc­u­men­tary he was de­lighted to wel­come Jim to Bar­ba­dos 10 years ago.

He added: “They are in my heart. I pray for them, I talk about them all the time. I of­ten re­mind peo­ple of broth­erly love and peace and that’s what Ac­cring­ton brought to me. I’m only 80 so if there’s one thing I’m go­ing to do, that’s to re­turn to Ac­cring­ton some time.”

Ac­cring­ton fan Russ Cud­dihy vividly re­called the mo­ment he first saw Hall take to the field.

He said: “He had a West In­dian cap on, all his whites on and a long rain­coat down to his an­kles. He walked across and we were all look­ing and think­ing ‘that’s Wes Hall’.”

Ac­cring­ton and Eng­land’s David Lloyd spoke of how Hall, who gave him his first bat, in­flu­enced his ca­reer and of the wider im­pact that West In­dian pro­fes­sion­als had on the league in that era. He said: “You’re talk­ing about the best play­ers in the world. These guys were clam­our­ing to come and play Lan­cashire League cricket. You would see these pro­fes­sion­als walk­ing around town and they would be celebs. It was ter­rific.”

Sir Viv Richards, one of the best and most charis­matic play­ers ever to wield the wil­low, stunned the world when he signed for Rish­ton in 1987. Richards had a suit­ably flam­boy­ant in­tro­duc­tion into Lan­cashire life when he ar­rived by he­li­copter be­fore scor­ing 87 runs in his de­but knock.

Richards said Rish­ton was a ‘spe­cial time’ and spoke about his team mates, friends and his (ac­quired) taste for ‘mushy peas and pies’.

He said: “When I first went it was so gloomy and I couldn’t un­der­stand how cricket could be played in this part of the world.”

Rish­ton cap­tain David Wells, who played and led Sir Viv dur­ing the sea­son, said it was a ‘mag­nif­i­cent’ time. He said: “Ev­ery­body is sup­posed to get a day in the sun and mine was say­ing that I cap­tained Viv Richards.”

The doc­u­men­tary was broad­cast on Mon­day, but is avail­able on BBC iPlayer.

Sir Wes Hall re­calls his time play­ing for Ac­cring­ton when he opened the bowl­ing with Jim Eland (in­set)

David Wells shares his mem­o­ries of the year he played with the leg­endary Viv Richards (in­set) at Rish­ton Cricket Club.

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