LONDON – West Indies stroke-maker Shai Hope has described the honour of being named one of Wisden’s five Cricketers-of-the-Year as “humbling”, and has praised the “phenomenal” effort which saw the Caribbean side stun England in the second Test at Leeds last August.
The 24-year-old Barbadian was announced on Wednesday along with Essex fast bowler Jamie Porter, and England Women’s World Cup-winning trio of Heather Knight, Anya Shrubsole and Nat Sciver, as the prestigious Almanack’s top choices in international cricket for the last year.
“It was a bit of a shock when I got the news and obviously a huge privilege being named among the five. It is a very humbling feeling,” Hope said.
“It was a historic year because it was the first time three ladies were also honoured. That is a big step forward. I see how the game is progressing, I see how it’s being supported by all the fans around the world. I think it can only go forward and get bigger.”
Hope was selected on the basis of his outstanding performance in the Leeds Test when he became the first batsman in 127 years of first class cricket at Headingley to score a century in both innings.
He fashioned 147 in the first innings and returned with an unbeaten 118 in the second, as West Indies chased down 322 to win by five wickets and level the three-match series 1-1.
Hope said the victory meant more than his personal achievement especially following the Caribbean side’s crushing defeat in the first Test at Birmingham when they went down by an innings and 209 runs inside three days.
“Truly, the win was more satisfying than the two hundreds because after the thrashing in the first game by the English guys at Edgbaston, the way we played in the second game was phenomenal,” Hope said.
“I guess there was no better time to score my first and second hundreds in Test cricket and I really did enjoy being the guy that pulled us out the wool.
“That was my first away win that I played in and the way we did it, to show how good we can play cricket and how competitive we can be, that was a better thing.”
Prior to the achievement, Hope had largely struggled in Tests, with a single half-century in 21 previous innings, at an average of 18.
He has since raised his career average to 33 from 17 Tests and has become the Windies principal batsmen.
Almanack editor Lawrence Booth said Hope was now the “West Indian wicket all opposition attacks craved most” but the quiet-spoken Hope disagreed with the assessment.
“I’ve heard it a couple of times but I wouldn’t say that,” he said.
“It’s a collective effort so on your day you can be unstoppable and then it can go the opposite way.” – CMC