LONDON – Shai Hope has the potential to be a modern “great”, West Indies coach Stuart Law said today ahead of Thursday’s third Test at Lord’s.
Hope came into the series against England averaging just 19.57. But he played a huge role in the victory at Headingley with a century in each innings and has impressed Law both with his talent and temperament.
While 23-year-old Hope had long been recognised as a talent within Caribbean cricket, there were a couple of moments at Headingley when Law was impressed by his composure under pressure and his hunger for further success.
One of those came before play on the final day.
“I remember sitting down next to him in the dressing room before the last day and said ‘Look, the plan is we’ll bat to tea, see where we are and if we’ve got wickets we’ll work out if we’re going to have a go or not’,” Law said.
“He looked at me and I said ‘What’s wrong with that?’ He looked at me again, shook his head and shrugged his shoulders and I said ‘Okay, what’s your plan?’
“’We’re going to win’, he said. That’s God’s honest truth. And he went out and won the game.
“He’s a rock. He’s a guy with a lot of talent who looks very good at the crease. We hadn’t seen that in international cricket, but Headingley showcased his talent.”
The other moment that impressed Law came after victory was achieved. Instead of wild celebrations, Hope remained calm and controlled.
“I think the fact he wasn’t over the top in his celebrations just means he’s hungry and he’s driven,” Law said. “He doesn’t want to stop where he’s at now; he wants to keep going. I think that’s a great sign.
“The challenge for Shai is to stay fit and healthy. If he does that, with the drive he’s got and the mental toughness and will to work, that will just make him better and better. He’s pretty good now, but he’s got the potential to be great.”
Law hoped the success of Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite would inspire their team-mates and suggested the side’s success might convince some of their detractors – not least Nasser Hussain, who wrote a newspaper column that underwhelmed the West Indies dressing room – to think again.
“There’s probably a couple that doubted their ability to cope at this level,” Law said. “But I hope those doubts are now well and truly put to bed and they can start flourishing.
“I thought guys like Chris Woakes, Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad bowled the house down at Headingley. And we had answers to them. It’s not the fact that they under-estimated us: we actually stood up and competed against some high-quality batting and bowling, so credit where credit’s due.
“Nasser’s entitled to his opinion: people make assumptions all the time. But he doesn’t know the group of players. I think it was great we sent a big humble pie to go and chomp on in the commentary box.”
Meanwhile, West Indies captain Jason Holder reassured the people of the Caribbean they were “in our thoughts and prayers” as they prepare for Hurricane Irma.
“Please take all necessary precautions as you prepare for this hurricane,” Holder said. “Our love and our wishes go to everybody in the Caribbean as you go through this tough time.”