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Straight To The Point: Arise, Sir Wes!
By John Blackman
This writer joins Barbadians and the rest of the cricketing world in congratulating Sir Wes on his elevation to the Knighthood. It comes after years of sustained lobbying from all colours, class, and creed.
But, who really is Sir Wes?
He was born in Station Hill, near Glendairy Prison, 74 years ago. He had one brother and his mother, aunt, and grandmother raised them both. The family moved three times, residing at the Back Ivy, St. Lawrence, and finally, Grazettes Housing Area.
He attended St. Giles Boys’ Primary School and Combermere School where he kept wicket. He did not show any exceptional talent to herald the arrival of one of the greatest players ever to grace the game... His break came quite unexpectedly in 1956 while he was representing Cable and Wireless. The team was playing Wanderers and was unable to break a partnership. In desperation, the captain, the late E “Sonny” Gilkes, took him from behind the stumps and gave him the ball. Wes obliged with the flattering figures of 7 wickets for 25 runs. He never looked back. A world-class fast bowler had just emerged! His rise was meteoric, representing the West Indies in 1957 even before playing a single game for Barbados.
The name Wes Hall is synonymous with the famous Tied Test at Brisbane, Australia in 1961. The final over which he bowled may probably be the most watched over on cricinfo.com. In the match, he took 9 wickets and scored his first test 50. He was instrumental in the West Indies defeating India in 1962, England in 1963 and 66, and for the first time, Australia in 1965.
He crowned his success in the game by serving also as President of the West Indies Cricket Board of Control.
He succeeded not only at cricket, but also in both the private and public sectors. He was a telegraphist and Staff Welfare Officer at Cable and Wireless, Personnel and Public Relations Manager at Banks Breweries, and Director of Corporate Affairs throughout the Caribbean at Sandals.
During the years 1986-1994, he was a Cabinet Minister of the Democratic Labour Party administration, and served in the portfolios of Labour, Tourism, Transport, and Sports. He jokingly teased that three separate Ministers now serve in the portfolios which he administered singlehandedly.
In 1988, Wes made the most important decision that a person is required to make in this life. He accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. Ten years later, he was ordained and is now a practising Minister of religion. He has held crusades in many countries including Sri Lanka, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, and the United States of America.
Dynamic, fluent, charismatic, and sometimes witty, Rev Wes is in great demand as a speaker. He loves long words like discombobulate, and amusing anecdotes. Delivering a tribute at the funeral of the late and beloved Pastor William Cuke, Founder of Abundant Life Assembly, Wes stated inter alia: “I love Pastor Cuke, as much as a man could love another man, and still remain a man”. The congregation responded spontaneously and appropriately.
Sir Wes is no longer delivering bouncers at bodies. His only quest now is delivering souls to Christ. He is an Associate Pastor at Abundant Life Assembly.
Well done, Sir Wes! And I hope it would not be long before a roundabout or your former primary school, St Giles, is named after you.
Arise, Sir Wes!