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West Indies bowler Cecil Wright retires aged 85

The octogenarian moved to England from the Caribbean in 1959.

Cecil Wright, 85, started playing cricket in Jamaica using an orange. (Danny Lawson/PA)
Cecil Wright, 85, started playing cricket in Jamaica using an orange. (Danny Lawson/PA)

By Jim van Wijk & Richard McCarthy, PA

Having taken in excess of 7,000 wickets over a career lasting more than half a century, 85-year-old West Indies bowler Cecil Wright is looking forward to passing on his wisdom to the next generation.

Growing up in Jamaica, Wright once played a first-class match against Barbados, facing the likes of Garfield Sobers, Wes Hall, Collie Smith and Seymour Nurse before heading to England in 1959.

With ambitions of pursuing a professional county career, Wright signed up for Central Lancashire League side Crompton. After later meeting his wife, Enid, and having son, Courtney, he would go on to call Oldham home.

‘Cec’, as he is affectionately known, reminisces over playing alongside West Indies greats Sobers, Viv Richards, Frank Worrell and Joel Garner – while there are plenty who will tell you of his own impressive haul of 538 wickets across five seasons.

His last official match came representing Uppermill, a club based near Saddleworth, against Springhead in the Pennine League 2nd XI Championship on September 7.

It will, though, not be stumps on his life-long love of a sport which Wright admits “kept me out of mischief” as he looks forward to the next chapter of enjoying time with his grandchildren, 13-year-old Kai and Coby, 10.

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Cecil Wright takes to the field for one last match. (Danny Lawson/PA)

“I am going to miss something that I have loved all through my life, and it has taken me a long time to decide this, but I said to myself I don’t want to be falling down on the ground out there,” Wright told the PA news agency.

“I just try my best – people say ‘why can’t you do it like you did last year?’, well, as time goes on, you have to be thankful (for what you can do).

“I can’t run too fast now, like how I used to – and especially when I play with the youngsters, they can have a good laugh. Now (after I retire from playing) I can come back down here and laugh at them.

“With having two little ones (grandchildren) now, they have played (cricket) and listen to me well, so that is all part of it.”

Wright started playing a game which would go on to define him when he was six – and in very different surroundings.

“You could not get a cricket ball – we used fruits, like oranges, you would pick a green one and wrap them up to make it hard,” he said.

“I started out in school, then some of the local teams.

“When I was picked to play for Jamaica against Barbados, well I never thought I could have been there, against all the top players. Gary Sobers was a youngster then. It was a great time.

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Cecil Wright admits his pace bowling is now not what it once was. (Danny Lawson/PA)

“Frank Worrell was my captain back home in Jamaica, then when I came over here it was Gary Sobers in the charity matches.

“I wish I could have been as good as they were, but I have just enjoyed everything which has come my way in the game.”

While now very much an honorary Lancastrian, ‘Cec’ will always carry a bit of the Caribbean with him as he heads off into a well-earned sporting retirement.

“I came here in 1959, then went home and came back, so after a couple of years I thought, ‘well I will stop here for a little bit and see what it is like’, then I just kept going,’ he recalled.

“The thing, though, I always said I missed most was the sunshine.”

PA

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