Barbados and West Indies middle-order batsman Shai Hope received the lion’s share of the individual awards when the Cricket West Indies/WIPA Sixth Annual Awards Ceremony was held at Hilton Barbados last night.
The 24-year-old Hope who has grown in international stature over the past 12 months, copped the Cricketer-of-the-Year, Test Cricketer-of-the-Year and One-Day International Cricketer-of-the-Year awards, at last night’s event.
For Hope, the awards added to his growing collection, having claimed the Barbados Cricket Association’s President’s Award earlier this year as well as being named one of the five Cricketers-of-the-Year by the prestigious Wisden Almanack.
Following a low-keyed start to his international career, the Barbadian shot to prominence last August when he made centuries in both innings of the second Test against England at Leeds, guiding West Indies to a historic series-levelling five-wicket win.
Hope’s feat marked the first time in 127 years of first-class cricket at Edgbaston that a player had scored a century in both innings at the ground.
The performance was the main reason behind his capture of the Wisden award.
Hope currently averages 32 from 19 Tests and 37 from 33 ODIs.
Evin Lewis, meanwhile, collected the T20 Cricketer-of-the-Year award for his exploits which have seen him score an unbeaten hundred and two half-centuries in his last two outings.
In the women’s category, Stafanie Taylor won the Cricketer-of-the-Year award along with the ODI Cricketer-of-the-Year while exciting all-rounder Deandra Dottin captured the T20 Cricketer-of-the-Year honour.
Jamaican Taylor, the West Indies Women’s captain, has scored four half-centuries in her last five ODIs and averages 44 from 111 matches.
Dottin, meanwhile, once again reiterated her amazing ability in the shortest format by slamming 112 against Sri Lanka last October to mark her second century in T20s.
Guyana speedster Keemo Paul was honoured as the Emerging Cricketer-of-the-Year, following a breakthrough season in first-class cricket that saw him grab 42 wickets and catapult into the West Indies A, ODI and Twenty20 squads. He has also been called up to the Test squad for this weekend’s day/night encounter against Sri Lanka at Kensington Oval.
As expected, veteran left-hander Devon Smith clinched the First Class Four Day Cricketer-of-the-Year award for his record-breaking 1095 runs in the season which concluded earlier this year.
He averaged 84 and struck six centuries in a campaign which saw him seal his return to West Indies colours for the ongoing Test series against Sri Lanka.
In an address to the gathering at the ceremony, featured speaker Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, noted that cricket and sports in general not only represented an industry but also sent strong signals to Barbadian youth that there was another alternative way of using their talents.
She noted that in order for this to be fully understood by young people, sports had to be better integrated into the education system and investments had to be made at an early stage in order for everyone to see it as a viable industry.
Caddle said she grew up at a time when Test cricket and ODIs were everything and pointed out that those of her generation who were fans of the game today have had to adjust and understand that like most other things cricket has evolved.
“If we are true fans of West Indies’ cricket and want to see it grow and evolve, we have to follow the game where it is going, and so I am proud to see those young men and women awarded tonight, because it is sometimes not easy to be a fan of West Indies cricket, much less a player, management or WIPA who are tasked with taking the game forward.
“It is heartening that the interest remains, the investment is still there and is increasing. What is even more important, there remains a cohort, a generation of young people who are the ambassadors of this sport. This is our brand as the West Indies, it is something that we have to maintain,” she said.
Caddle issued a call for greater linkages between cricket and sports in general to industries and investments that have taken the region to the stage it is at currently. The minister said while tourism had benefited greatly from cricket, the region hadn’t married the tourism sector sufficiently enough to cricket and other sporting activities.
“The government of Barbados has said it is our aim to grow the tourism product and to showcase sport as an economic and productive sector and use it to increase the tourism revenue that we are seeking. The Minister of Sports, the Minister of Tourism and Prime Minister have already held several discussions about how to create an industry from what happens in West Indies cricket and not just cricket but how we are able to use the Caribbean as a sporting hub for international events,” Caddle said.
She added: “Of course, in order to do that we must have the right investment in our infrastructure and in our people, we have historic cricketing grounds in the region, they have to be maintained. We need to showcase their rich history and legacy and what it has meant to us,” the newly elected parliamentarian said.