Hope and Hope took centre stage amidst bright “light” and very excited students at the Queen’s College school hall this morning.
It was a special occasion as the alma mater of new West Indies batting hero Shai Hope and his older brother Kyle, now also a West Indies player, paid tribute to both.
Under the banner “Recognizing Our Own” the packed audience heard moving speeches from the long-standing head of Physical Education, Rory Sidaway, Olympian and old scholar Freida Nicholls and cricket coach Barry Forde in between a witty Master of Ceremony, Bryan Lashley.
Among those present were principal Dr David Browne, his deputy Dr Marva Lashley, members of the sports coaching staff, Ryan Holford, Brian Holder and Tanya Oxley and school cricketing contemporaries of the Hopes, several of whom are also their current club-mates.
Nicholls told the audience that, “a combination of sports and academics can open amazing doors”, while Sidaway gave a history of the Hopes’ careers on the cricket field.
This was a collective effort, which included the Queen’s College Old Scholars Association, Parent Teachers Association and the current school cricketers.
And when Shai Hope was asked to have his say and told the audience he would be brief so that the students could go to their classes, they instantly shouted “no” in unison.
After all, it was one of the greatest moments for the students of an institution with such a wonderful history in academics but which has become very competitive in sports as well.
Shai Hope, 23, was the very first student from Queen’s College to play international cricket. He made his Test debut against England on home turf at Kensington Oval in May, 2015, while the 28-year-old Kyle had his first taste of Test cricket, also against England, at Edgbaston in Birmingham in August this year.
Shai has played 13 Tests and 23 One-Day Internationals, while Kyle has turned out in three Tests and five ODIs.
The Queen’s College motto is Fiat Lux, which means, Let there be Light. Once an all-girls school, the old motto Fertur Lux is translated – The Light is being carried.
Shai Hope, in particular, was a shining light for West Indies on the recent tour of England. He created history in the memorable second Test at Headingley, Leeds, by scoring a century in each innings – the first time it was ever achieved in a first-class match at the venue – as West Indies triumphed by five wickets against the odds to level the three-match series 1-1 after being humiliated by an innings and 209 runs inside three days in the historic Day/Night pink ball match at Edgbaston.
They lost the series 2-1.
True to his words, Shai Hope’s speech was brief as he simply told the students: “Be yourself and continue to dream big”.
As far as the students were concerned, he could have spoken all morning. And as soon as the function was over, they eagerly sought autographs and pictures.
It was also touching to see old schoolmates of the Hopes. In fact, the number represented a cricket team with a heavy bias and somewhat uniqueness of players from ESA Field Pickwick, the club of Kyle and Shai.
All of the following are fairly well known in local domestic cricket: Ryan Arthur, the St. Hill brothers, Clint and Craig, Rohan, Ryan, Raymond Bynoe, Craig Holder, Adeko Collymore and Che Layne – all of whom play for Pickwick; Nekoli Parris (ICBL Empire) and Anthony Alleyne and Nicholas Kirton (Sagicor Life UWI).
Alleyne is a current Barbados Pride opening batsman, touted to become the third Queen’s College product to play for West Indies.
As they were all asked to stand and be acknowledged, an emotional Forde remarked that it was a “fantastic moment” for Queen’s College.
Soon I was being reminded by Alleyne’s father, Trevor, of the early promise shown by Shai Hope and Anthony Alleyne in the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Under-15 Championship.
Displaying a newspaper clipping with Shai Hope and Anthony Alleyne together, Trevor Alleyne recalled an Under-15 match against Garrison Secondary (now Graydon Sealy) at Bayville in 2007 when in reply to a first innings total of 336 for six declared, Queen’s College piled up 379 without loss. Alleyne was unbeaten on 231 and Hope 112.
The next season, under the captaincy of Hope, Queen’s College won the Under-15 title, beating Coleridge & Parry, led by Marlon Welcome-Goodman, who now plays for UWI, in the Final at Wildey.
Funny enough, I vividly remember interviewing the captains as well as a veteran member of the BCA groundstaff after the match for a BCA-sponsored television programme on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation. The groundsman had jokingly remarked that “girls had beaten boys” in a clear reference to Queen’s College being once an all-girls school, while Coleridge & Parry was a former all-boys institution.
Perhaps he should be reminded that some of the former all-girls schools like Queen’s College, Alexandra and The St. Michael, have gradually produced international cricketers since co-education in the early 1990s.
I do know a little about the very high standards, which are set at Queen’s College. My daughter, Melanie-Anne is a former student in the era of Shai Hope, Alleyne and some of the Pickwick players and she did attend the 2008 Under-15 Final and felt very proud when the school won the title.
Melanie went on to become head girl and also won a Barbados scholarship in 2010. And coincidentally, she was fortunate to be present at the venues for the Test debuts of both Shai and Kyle.
Now back to the Headingley Test, which will long be remembered for exceptional batting by Shai Hope and another young, talented Barbadian, Kraigg Brathwaite.
Shai Hope made his maiden Test century – 147 (343 minutes, 253 balls, 23 fours) and 118 not out (321 minutes, 211 balls, 14 fours), while opener and vice-captain Brathwaite scored 134 (376 minutes, 249 balls, 17 fours, 2 sixes) and 95 (260 minutes, 180 balls, 12 fours).
Shai Hope’s showing was very special, being the first ever player to score centuries in both innings of a first-class match at Headingley. It was the 534th first-class match at the venue and 76th Test match, but the first to see a batsman scoring two centuries.
The scores were: England 258 (70.5 overs) and 490 for eight declared (141 overs). West Indies 427 (127 overs) and 322 for five (91.2 overs).
As the undisputed man-of-the-match, Shai Hope said: “I feel elated. We’ve worked hard as a team and we’re pleased to get over the line. I am a professional cricketer for a reason so I always believe in myself. We fought hard throughout the game, so we needed to do well with the bat.”
There is indeed a marked seriousness and true professionalism about Shai Hope. After the function this morning, he quietly told those within earshot that despite the big occasion, he was intent on heading soon to a practice session with some of his West Indies team-mates including Kyle as they prepare for the imminent tour of Zimbabwe for two Test matches.
The light shone brightly at Queen’s College today. Now the Husbands, St. James School will no doubt be hoping for others to follow in the footsteps of Shai and Kyle.
Keith Holder is a veteran, award-winning freelance sports journalist, who has been covering local, regional and international cricket since 1980 as a writer and commentator. He has compiled statistics on the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Division 1 (now Elite) Championship for over three-and-a-half decades and is responsible for editing the BCA website (www.bcacricket.org). Holder is also the host of the cricket Talk Show, Mid Wicket, on the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation 100.7 FM on Tuesday nights. Email:Keithfholder@gmail.com