Shamar Joseph: The Savior of Test Cricket

West Indies celebrate a famous Test win over Australia to draw the series 1-1. Source: Getty Images.

After twenty seven years of heart-break, the West Indies team produced one of their most significant victories ever on not just Australian soil, but in the history of Test Cricket to draw the series 1-1. Surely in the early hours of Sunday January 28th 2024, Shamar Joseph would not have been even pondering being on the famous Gabba ground, yet alone bowling his team to what was a sensational win for the ages. After a toe-crushing yorker from Mitchell Starc the evening before, surely it was all but over for Shamar Joseph. Cricket is such a funny game.

This victory one would assume could be the greatest upset in the history of Test Cricket. Number one side in World Cricket defeated by number 8 in the Test rankings. This battle was similar to David vs Goliath. 

     Thanks to the West Indies team’s physiotherapist Doctor Denis Byam, Joseph was able to counteract his sore toe with medication and injections to somehow show up on not just The Gabba stadium, but actually bowl approximately forty-five minutes into the first session on day four of this epic Test match. Despite his complaints to the Doctor of being in constant physical pain, he eventually agreed to further partake in the match. This young talented Guyanese fast bowler from Baracara showed that anything can be achieved in life. Joseph’s training kit was not even at the ground until the media manager of the West Indies team, Dario Barthley, organized for his clothes to be retrieved. 

     Whatever tablets the good Doctor gave him, my God it surely worked in his favor. With the West Indian skipper Kraigg Brathwaite asking him how he felt, Joseph replied to his captain saying that once he had the ball in his possession he is not coming off until victory is achieved. This sensational super-star in the making bowled close to twelve overs in one spell. His exact figures were 11.5 overs, 7 wickets for 68 runs. This guy is not just quick, but wow is he accurate. Not the tallest in the World but skiddy with his control and has a mean bouncer. Reminds me of the late great Malcolm Marshall, similarly built and knowing how to out-fox the batters. Shamar Joesph has a bowling run up that is like poetry in motion. 

     With Australia needing 103 more runs to win with 8 wickets in hand, surely television sets must have been off around the early hours in the Caribbean. This man Joseph ripped through Cameron Green and then knocked over Travis Head with an in-swinging yorker that shattered his off-stump. From that point onward, the West Indies were in the game big time. With every over he delivered with his severely damaged toe, his speeds were increasing and clicking constantly at 150 kmph. Busted toe or not, he made sure that the West Indies got their first Test win in Australia since February 1997. Personally, I would have remembered that win twenty-seven years ago when the great Brian Lara made 132 at the WACA in Perth. Legends such as Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Ian Bishop, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Jimmy Adams and Carl Hooper were some of the players in the West Indies team of 1997. 

     With 9 runs needed for victory, Shamar Joseph charging in clean bowled Josh Hazlewood and sprinted in celebration around The Gabba with his team-mates. It was like Usain Bolt in his heyday. This victory also meant it was the first time since 2003 that West Indies beat the mighty Australians in a Test match. Imagine taking twenty-one years to do so. They would’ve come close a few times within that period of time, but it just was not meant to be for the men from the Caribbean over the years. This victory one would assume could be the greatest upset in the history of Test Cricket. Number one side in World Cricket defeated by number 8 in the Test rankings. This battle was similar to David vs Goliath. 

     Tears flowed from the eyes of Brian Lara in the television commentary box and more so with Carl Hooper on the radio commentary. Shamar Joseph’s workload however must be vividly managed by the West Indies team as we live in an era of multiple formats. His sudden rise in his two-test career has gained him a PSL contract with Peshawar Zalmi. The good news for all West Indian fans is that Shamar has publicly stated that he will not be lured into T20 leagues once Test Cricket is going on for the West Indies. It is a huge statement to make and time will tell if it is valid. Once he’s fully fit, there will be no doubt he can be an asset to the white-ball set-up especially with a T20 World Cup around the corner at home in June of this year. For now, let’s bask in the glory that West Indies have found a super-star that can partner Alzarri Joseph with the new ball. Shamar Joseph, remember the name!

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