Legendary all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers has described West Indies stroke-maker Shai Hope as a player of “class” and says he can become even better with a few adjustments to his game.
“I saw him when the president (of Cricket West Indies) asked me to come down and do some coaching with the team for four or five weeks,” Sir Garfield said in reference to the first time he saw Hope.
“The first time I saw him, I said, ‘Pfft, this is class! This is class’. This youngster has real talent and he can really play.”
Sir Garry, who was speaking during a visit to the West Indies camp ahead of the Test series which started today, said while he had been impressed with Hope’s array of strokes, there were a few suggestions he had made.
“He had one shot that I didn’t want to take away from him because he played it all the time. [He] was hitting the off-spinners, trying to hit them through mid-off and that kind of thing,” said Sir Garfield, Barbados’ only living National Hero.
“Never take away what a player has. Try to help him with the others or try to help him to play that shot better. After about two or three weeks watching him, I just said to him, ‘Shai, that’s your shot, don’t lose it, don’t let anybody take that away from you but I can just give you another string to your bow.”
He explained: “There are only two men behind square (on the leg-side), that’s a big area for two men to control. If you went over to the off stump a little bit, do you know how many runs you could score through there?
“They can’t put anybody else there, only two. Try it, if you can’t do it, put it away, play the way you play but just give it a try in the nets, practise it and see how it works for you.”
After a less than stellar start to his Test career, Hope has emerged as one of the leaders of the Windies batting unit. In 2017, he hit two hundreds in the second Test at Leeds to steer West Indies to an astonishing come-from-behind win over England.
The 25-year-old also excels in the one-day format where he averages 47 and in the Twenty20 format where he shone during the recent Bangladesh tour.
He said having Sir Garfield around had been a huge boost for the entire squad.
“Sir Garry is an awesome person and it’s always great to see him and have him around. He has tremendous presence and you can learn so much from just listening to him as he speaks and shares his knowledge of the game and especially how to go about your batting,” Hope said.
“Having him join us is an inspiration. It’s the kind of thing that can give you a boost ahead of a game and a series. It’s always a honour to be in his presence. He has vast knowledge and experience and we are happy he took the time to come and speak with us.”