‘I’ll always be here to play Test cricket’: Shamar delivers message of hope for Windies as T20 vultures circle
West Indies’ new superstar Shamar Joseph has vowed to commit to Test cricket and spurn the riches of T20 after bowling his side to a stunning eight-run win over Australia at the Gabba.
Despite having the big toe on his right foot crushed by a Mitchell Starc yorker on the third evening, the 24-year-old bowled 11.5 overs unchanged to take 7-68 to ensure a 1-1 series draw and win the player-of-the-match and series awards.
When asked how he would respond when cashed-up T20 franchises come knocking, Joseph was emphatic.
“I will always be here to play Test cricket for the West Indies,” Joseph said.
“I am not afraid to say this live. There will be times when T20 might come around and Test cricket will be there … but I will always be available to play for the West Indies no matter how much money comes towards me.”
His match-winning spell on the fourth day had Brian Lara hailing him as “a champion” and Hooper crying in the ABC commentary box.
Lara attended Joseph’s post-match presser and filmed it on his phone with a grin from ear to ear.
Former Test quick Ian Bishop went a step further, labelling it among the greatest debuts in Test cricket.
“A real dream come true for ‘Joseph the Deliver for the West Indies,” he said on Channel 7.
“There will be felicitations from Kingston, to Georgetown to Guyana.
“This is just the beginning of a storied career but it’s hard to find any in the history of the game, perhaps, to top this.
“Not many people will be sleeping right now in the Caribbean, I tell you that.”
Joseph did not think he would even bowl on Sunday after a sleepless night. He said captain Kraigg Brathwaite had shown enormous faith which he wanted to repay.
“I met the captain on this tour and he is amazing,” he said.
“Even if he wanted me to come off, I was not coming off. I just wanted to make him proud.
“It was amazing to do it in front of Ian Bishop, Carl Hooper and Brian Lara.
“Last night I was in bed in terrible pain. I didn’t get to sleep until 4am. At 11.30am the doctor (Denis Byam) came and said, ‘I need you at the ground’.
“I got to the ground and he gave me some tablet. I don’t know what it was but it worked for me. This is my second Test match and I feel like I have played 100.”
That Joseph was on the field at all spoke volumes for his commitment and courage after he’d limped from the field on the third evening retired hurt
He was cleared of a fracture and did not take the field initially on the fourth morning despite warming up with the West Indies squad before play.
His entry to the bowling crease changed the Test match, after taking five wickets on debut in Adelaide to announce himself as one of West Indies’ brightest hopes in Test cricket.
The man from Guyana was limping while moving around the field as the injury to his toe started to take its toll, but he was not daunted.
After bowling 10 overs straight before tea and taking six wickets, Joseph came back out after the break and delivered the knockout punch by bowling Josh Hazlewood with a rip snorter.
“Twelve months ago his dream was to play first-class cricket, 12 months later he has led the West Indies to their most remarkable Test match victory,” Bishop said.
“Test match cricket is alive and well.”