In commenting on his latest award as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year, talented Barbados and West Indies batsman Shai Hope said it was a “very humbling feeling”.
Hope’s reaction is reflective of the demeanour he continues to exhibit following significant achievements in 2017.
His selection was due to his record feat of scoring twin hundreds in a winning cause against England in the second Test at Headingley, Leeds.
Hope slammed his maiden Test century – 147 and 118 not out, helping to spur Jason Holder’s team to a memorable five-wicket win.
It was the 534th first-class match including 76 Tests at Headingley, but the first to see a batsman scoring two centuries.
Joining Hope for the prestigious award were three members of the England Women’s World Cup-winning team – Anya Shrubsole, Heather Knight and Nat Sciver – and Jamie Porter of Essex.
The winners received a commemorative edition of the Almanack, which was published on Wednesday.
“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,” the 24-year-old Hope said.
Hope’s feat at Headingley also stood out against the background that West Indies had been humiliated by an innings and 209 runs inside three days in the historic Day/Night pink ball first Test at Edgbaston in Birmingham.
They lost the series 2-1, going under by nine wickets at Lord’s.
Hope said the victory at Headingley meant more than his personal achievement.
“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,” he remarked.
“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 woods.”
Once there is discussion on that Headingley Test, the batting of another Barbadian, opener Kraigg Brathwaite, also comes into focus as he agonisingly missed out on scoring two centuries as well.
The statistics show Hope scoring 147 (343 minutes, 253 balls, 23 fours) and 118 not out (321 minutes, 211 balls, 14 fours), while vice-captain Brathwaite made 134 (376 minutes, 249 balls, 17 fours, 2 sixes) and 95 (260 minutes, 180 balls, 12 fours).
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, Hope said at the time: “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 were other landmarks as well in that Test.
The 390 runs added by Brathwaite and Hope as a pair were the third-most by a West Indies pair in a match. The list is topped by 446 runs between two other Barbadians – Garry Sobers (now the Right Excellent Sir Garfield) and Conrad Hunte (the late Sir Conrad) against Pakistan at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica in 1958.
Hope was the 11th player and second West Indian to score their career’s first two Test centuries in the same match. Jamaican Lawrence Rowe, 214 and 100 not out on his debut against Zealand at Sabina Park in 1972, is the other West Indian.
Brathwaite and Hope were the fourth West Indies pair to share 100-plus partnerships in both innings of a Test. The others were Clyde Walcott (the late Sir Clyde) and Sir Everton Weekes (369) v Australia at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad, 1955; Jeffrey Dujon and Augustine Logie (261) v England at Lord’s in 1988 and Brian Lara and Ramnaresh Sarwan (335) v Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2001.
In addition, Brathwaite and Hope were the seventh pair to add 200-plus runs and 100-plus runs in a Test and first to do so against England.
And the last time West Indies had won a Test in England, before the victory at Headingley, was in 2000, by an innings at Edgbaston.
Returning to the Wisden award, Hope also thanked Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) for support leading up to the event.
“Absolutely honoured to be awarded one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year. Thanks to CWI and BCA for their support and assistance leading up to this event. An enormous thank you to the Directors of John Wisden and Co. for selecting me for immense accolade,” he posted on Twitter.
There are at least two other special occasions when Hope was honoured for his achievements last year that stand out in relation to his modesty.
In October, before a packed school hall at his alma mater Queen’s College to honour him and his older brother Kyle who has also played at the highest level for West Indies (both represent Pickwick in BCA competitions), Shai told excited students: “Be yourself and continue to dream big”.
Then in January after he was named the National Sports Council Sports Personality of the Year, as well as the Senior Outstanding Sportsperson, he remarked: “It means a lot to have so many people appreciating your achievements over the last year. It definitely means a lot. I appreciate everything. It is now sinking in. I know that there are many other top athletes in the region and in Barbados. Getting such an award means a lot.”
Hope also keeps wicket in one-day matches for both Barbados Pride and West Indies. In the 2017 Regional Super50 Championship, which Barbados Pride won, he scored centuries in the semi-finals and final, while boasting of a record seven dismissals in the semi-finals.
Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Year is a tradition that dates back to 1889 and is judged on performances during the English summer with no player able to be named more than once.
West Indians, who have featured among the Five Cricketers of the Year, are: 1934 – George Headley; 1940 – Learie Constantine; 1951 – Sonny Ramadhin, Alf Valentine, Everton Weekes, Frank Worrell; 1958 – Collie Smith, Clyde Walcott; 1959 – Roy Marshall; 1964 – Charlie Griffith, Conrad Hunte, Rohan Kanhai, Garfield Sobers; 1967 – Seymour Nurse; 1970 – Basil Butcher; 1971 – Clive Lloyd; 1972 – Lance Gibbs; 1974 – Keith Boyce, Roy Fredericks; 1975 – Andy Roberts; 1977 – Gordon Greenidge, Michael Holding, Viv Richards; 1979 – John Shepherd; 1980 – Joel Garner; 1983 – Alvin Kallicharran, Malcolm Marshall; 1985 – Larry Gomes; 1987 – Courtney Walsh; 1989 – Jeff Dujon, Franklyn Stephenson; 1991 – Desmond Haynes; 1992 – Curtly Ambrose, Richie Richardson; 1995 – Brian Lara; 1997 – Phil Simmons; 2008 – Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ottis Gibson; 2013 – Marlon Samuels; 2018 – Shai Hope.
For a player who struggled with the bat early in his Test career, Shai Hope has started to blossom. Now after 17 Tests, he has 996 runs (ave: 33.20) including two centuries and three half-centuries, while in 33 One-Day Internationals, he has 1020 runs (ave: 37.77) with one hundred and five fifties.
Winning major awards will no doubt inspire him to aim for greater heights. And he knows about being humble.
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).