Cricket's Big Hendy

Tuesday, 3rd December 2013

 

CRICKET’S BIG HENDY

 

Henderson Wallace is one of the most popular personalities in Barbados cricket with a wealth of experience on and off the field. A former West Indies youth player and Professional Cricketer, he is currently a leading cricket broadcaster and Chairman of the Barbados national selectors. “Big Hendy” is an articulate commentator, deep thinker about the game and its future, and one of the island’s unsung tourism ambassadors…

 

You are a Concierge at a top West Coast Hotel with a high profile in local
cricket. Do the hotel guests know Hendy Wallace the cricketer?

 

Yes, a few have heard of Hendy Wallace the cricketer, but more seem to know of Hendy Wallace the broadcaster. When the subject of cricket comes up I’m always willing to chat to the guests and the keen cricket enthusiasts love to talk about the West Indies game and the great heroes of yesteryear.


 Do a lot of cricket visitors come to the Sandpiper Hotel these days?

 

A lot of our visitors are interested and follow cricket, but very few come just because of the cricket. The Sandpiper has a high repeat rate of approximately 80% so cricket is added value to many of the guests.


You spent 21 years in Ireland playing professional cricket in the summer months. Was it difficult to settle back into a career in the hospitality industry when you retired from playing?

 

I never in my wildest dreams expected to develop a career in the hospitality industry, but the Sandpiper Hotel provided out-of-cricket season employment when I returned annually. Not surprisingly the industry grew on me so it was a no-brainer when I retired. The experience gained over the years made for a seamless transition and I’ve never regretted the permanent move.


Have you always seen yourself as a Barbados ambassador when you were overseas?

 

Absolutely, and being the only black person in the Eglinton area in North-West Ireland created some curiosity off the field of play as much as on it, so I used that opportunity to promote Barbados. Over the years I made some wonderful friends all over Ireland and cricket gave me more opportunities to sell the idea of holidays and tours to Barbados. The Irish love their cricket and I’m very proud that hundreds of them have come to Barbados through my involvement.


Do you still retain connections with your friends in Ireland?

Thanks to social media and the Internet I’ve kept very good contact. I’ve been back since I retired from playing and I plan to connect with a few old friends this summer.

I had a terrific time in Northern Ireland when civil unrest was at its highest and playing cricket had plenty of challenges. Many people have asked me to write about it and this year I’ve finally got round to writing my autobiography. I plan to visit North and Southern Ireland in August to launch the book, which will feature a lot of colourful stories and incidents. 


Cricket crowds have been diminishing in recent years, but the Limacol CPL
has lifted the profile and of course England are back in 2014. Is this the
start of resurgence in cricket popularity?

 

T20 cricket is an excellent vehicle to promote the game. It is fast paced and action packed over a comparatively short time and don't forget it is also a party. You don't need much more than that to get the crowds out in the Caribbean. Couple that with emerging talent and close matches, you have a sponsor's dream, hence the visible all-round support for the 2013 Limacol Caribbean Premier League. T20 cricket is tailor-made for the Caribbean and its success in its inaugural year should be a big incentive for cricket enthusiasts from all over the world to come to the region to experience the whole package in 2014 and beyond.

An England tour is a "cash cow" for Barbados and the Caribbean tourism industry. It has it own niche support, but overall, good cricket, effective marketing and attractive pricing equates to popularity. We’ll welcome back the Barmy Army and all their friends with open arms.

 

Twenty20 cricket seems tailor-made for Hendy Wallace in his prime. Do you
regret missing out in this era?

 

So far I have no regrets in life and remember T20 is really nothing new to Irish club cricket, so I had the experience of it since 1984. However it would have been nice to be playing in an era where you are paid handsomely doing a job you love. If I missed anything it has been the lovely contracts that are being offered.


As a sporting personality in the tourism industry what do you feel Barbados has to offer that is unique as a sporting destination?

 

The weather is always a bonus, but the passion for sport exhibited by Barbadians is unique. In all walks of life the sports tourist will come across an "expert" in whatever sport they follow, should it be Motorsports, Golf, Football, Horseracing, Yachting or King Cricket.

I believe this adds to a strong interaction between visitors and locals, especially over a cold Banks Beer or smooth Rum. And it gets better and louder as the beer and the rum stimulate the friendly exchanges! We love our sport.

Picture - Hendy Wallace and Clarence Hiles from Sporting Barbados

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