The hair and trademark moustache might be snowy white these days, as Sir Richard Hadlee prepares to celebrate his 70th birthday next month, but when he talks about his time at Nottinghamshire, the years fall away.
You are quickly transported back to a time when county cricket was a star-studded roll call of the best: Malcolm Marshall, Imran Khan, Michael Holding, Viv Richards and, fitting company for all these legends, Hadlee.
It is 40 years since he took 105 wickets in the season for Notts as they claimed their first County Championship title for 52 years. Hadlee still remembers Reg Simpson, the Notts and England batsman who was a fighter pilot in the war, breaking down in tears when the trophy was presented.
Three years later, Hadlee did the double of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in a season - nowadays 50 is a good return for a fast bowler - which is one of those sporting feats lost to time due to evolution of the sport away from first-class cricket.
It is hard to imagine now that a player of Hadlee's class was part-time before signing for Notts in 1978. He was not young, in his mid-to-late twenties, and was working as a sales manager before county cricket changed everything.
"I got involved in county cricket purely by chance," he says. "I was playing in an indoor cricket double-wicket competition at Wembley for New Zealand. Beefy [Ian Botham] was playing for England.
"Notts had sacked Clive Rice [later reinstated] because he joined World Series Cricket. They were looking for a replacement. I did not have a job to go back to at home, so fair enough.
"Within days, I was at Trent Bridge and signed a three-year contract.
"Once I got involved with Notts it was my greatest life experience. Playing six or seven days a week in England was huge. All of a sudden I was in a professional environment and learned to develop more skills. It fine-tuned me as a cricketer. You had the best of the best in county cricket. Every game was competitive. The opposition always had somebody who could win a game."
It was not the professional era of modern-day dietitians, with drinking and a good time as important as the cricket, but Hadlee was one of those focused on the sport.
"Look, having a beer was something to look forward to. To be with members and the fans, it was nice," he says. "It's all we knew in those days. You trained hard and played hard. We were not monitored by mobile phones and cameras. Today they get caught out and set up. For us, not that I'm talking of untoward things, it was easier to cope with the lifestyle and enjoy ourselves, but we were very, very professional."
Right down to planning a double season. Long before data analysis became de rigueur in cricket, Hadlee was using a notebook to plot out his road to 1000 runs and 100 first-class wickets in 1984.
"After the 1981 success Ken Taylor [Notts cricket manager] said to me, you are good enough to go at the double. I said, what is the double? I had never thought about it before. 1984 was the year when I was going to spend the whole summer at Notts, so I planned the way of doing it. I went into massive detail. Wickets at Trent Bridge, wickets away from home. Trent Bridge was going to be hard to score runs because the wickets were a little bit spicy. I would score more runs away from home."
"We had 24 county games in those days and people said nobody can do the double. I based it on 20 games, bearing in mind it could rain, or I got an injury.
"Five wickets a game and 50 runs a game was my aim. As the season progressed, I was striking five or six wickets a game but always behind on the run tally.It was getting obsessional because I was statistically orientated. I needed goals to keep me on track. Notts were playing Middlesex at Lord's on a frisky track. We bowled them out for 160-odd. When we batted we were 17 for four. Ricey said to me: 'Go out and score a double hundred.' I thought, no way, my highest score was about 130.
"But it planted a seed in my mind. As it turned out, I scored 210 not out, my highest first-class score. That put me ahead of target and the double was achieved with games to spare. Ricey was clever. He was asking the question, can we go beyond what we think we can achieve? And the answer should always be yes."
The notion that simply going out and striking a double century is easy underlines the difference between the best and the rest: believe the impossible is possible when games are lost.
Three years later, Hadlee would fall just three wickets short of repeating the double. Only one other player, Franklyn Stephenson, has done it since and that was in 1988. Graham Gooch famously said playing New Zealand was "Richard Hadlee at one end, Ilford seconds at the other".
He carried his team, becoming the first man to 400 Test wickets, with 36 five-fors and nine 10-wicket hauls, records only bettered by Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne. He averaged 14.51 for Notts, with his smooth, efficient action and surprise bouncer perfect for English conditions.
"I knew bowling was not about brute strength," he said. "There were bowlers who looked much more fearsome than me, but I thought they sometimes wasted the new ball. I tried to make the new ball count. I was consistent, day in and day out. The art of bowling is to put the ball where the batsman does not want it to pitch."
"Generally that is three metres in front of the batsmen. I manipulated the batsman around the crease, which gave me three opportunities to get him out: lbw, bowled and nicked. It was about adapting to conditions and I learned that in England, not New Zealand."
Hadlee admires James Anderson, describing him as "a more skilful bowler than I was". The Nottinghamshire bond with Stuart Broad is strong, too. Broad turned to Hadlee for advice over shortening his run-up not that long ago.
"I said it is all about feeling comfortable. If you come off a short run, you might cop some flak because people think you are taking shortcuts and not putting in the effort. Perception is you have to come off a long run. It's wrong."
After becoming a national selector and sitting on the board of New Zealand Cricket, Hadlee in recent years has devoted his time to writing a book about his father, Walter, who captained the 1949 tour to England. Walter left an extensive, handwritten diary that Hadlee holds up to his computer's camera for me to see.
The Skipper's Diary describes bombed-out London, the effects of rationing and austerity. Handwriting is scrawled across the page, with no space wasted as paper was short, too.
The most striking part is the description of Germany, where the New Zealand team travelled by train across a war-ravaged Europe to play a Combined Services XI in Berlin.
"He records the damage, the destruction and German people scavenging for food," Hadlee says. "It left a long impression on them all."
The 1949 team played four three-day tests, all ending in a draw. It was a seminal moment in the history of New Zealand cricket.
"Turning Dad's diaries into a book has been my lifetime's achievement. That New Zealand team are known as the 49ers," he says. "No other team is known by the year they played together. That is how special they were."
The Hadlee legacy will live on for some time, in more ways than one.