West Indies drew their Test series with Australia 1-1 after Shamar Joseph led a spectacular comeback in Adelaide; West Indies had not beaten Australia in their own country since 1997; Australia retain the Frank Worrel trophy but it’s the away side that go home happiest
By Um-E-Aymen Babar, Sports Journalist
Bold, belligerent and complete with revolutionary intent, Shamar Joseph reignited the conversation on the importance of Test cricket with his epic seven-wicket haul to lead West Indies to a historic victory last week.
When sports players have a meteoric rise, the rest of the world latches on to ride the wave of stardom and witness the spectacle.
Emma Raducanu in 2021. Rehan Ahmed in 2022. Coco Gauff in 2023. Luke Littler in 2024 – to name a few.
Joseph joined that group of young elites when he punctured Josh Hazlewood’s off-stump to claim the final wicket and wheeled away in jubilation as the West Indies beat Australia by eight runs at The Gabba for the first time in 27 years.
Almost 5000 miles away in Hyderabad, another sensation was taking place as debutant Tom Hartley stunned India by taking seven wickets as England wrapped up an unlikely 28-run victory over the hosts.
Hartley and Joseph, both 24, were barely known in the international cricket scene before their debut series. Things looked precarious for the West Indies fast bowler who was not going to turn up to the fourth day after a searing yorker from Mitchell Starc on day three forced him to retire injured.
“The night before I was on my bed in terrible pain. To be fair I didn’t even get to sleep until 4 o’clock in the morning,” Shamar said in the post-match conference.
“Around 11.30am, Dr Denis Byam called me and said he needs me at the ground and I told him I’m not feeling well but I will just come and support. I got to the ground and he gave me a tablet. I don’t know what it is, but I took it and it worked.
“Kraigg [Brathwaite] asked how I was feeling and I told him I was fine. I said to him I’m not coming off, no matter what you do I am not coming off.
“He kept telling me to keep believing and to keep going. Alzarri [Joseph] came to me and said the same thing. He said keep going buddy. Take that pain and put it into getting wickets. That’s all I need. I said I would do it for him and the team.
“Having the great Brian Lara, Ian Bishop and Carl Hooper standing there, it was amazing to do this in front of them.”
Two years ago, Joseph worked as a security guard in his hometown of Baracara which has a population of just 350 people and it was only five years ago the town got internet access. The 24-year-old would practise his cricketing skills with fruit and tape-balls before he decided to take the risk to pursue the sport full-time.
Joseph broke into the Guyana cricket squad after his pace impressed selectors and later starred in the Caribbean Premier League before being picked for the West Indies A squad.
During the West Indies’ match against world Test champions Australia, Joseph’s bowled 12 consecutive overs to take the West Indies to a famous win over the hosts for the first time in 27 years. It was Australia’s first loss in 12 pink ball Tests.
Australia skipper Pat Cummins had courageously declared at 289-9 with his side still behind the visitors’ first innings total of 311 before his bowlers dismissed West Indies for 193 in their second dig.
Cummins, who led Australia to a World Test Championship triumph last year, said he was disappointed at the defeat but paid full tribute to West Indies.
“That was a fantastic Test match and a fantastic series,” he said.
“I thought in particular, Shamar, the way he bowled today was right up there and unfortunately we weren’t good enough.
“We’ve all played enough to know that this game humbles you pretty quickly when you’re thinking you’re on top of the world.”
But there remains something jarring about Hartley and Joseph’s victories when we look at it against the backdrop of the dying breed of Test cricket.
After the win, Joseph said: “This is my dream, to play cricket for the West Indies.
“I’m not afraid to say this. I will always be available to play for the West Indies, no matter how much money comes towards me. I will always be here to play Test cricket.”
But, what happens when that love affair becomes one-sided? What if, in another perhaps not so distant reality, a future Shamar Joseph or Tom Hartley wanted to play for their country but there weren’t as many opportunities? Or the cricketing landscape was engulfed by franchise leagues?
Stories like Joseph’s happen because there is a space for them and judging by Brian Lara’s tears on commentary, there certainly is still an appetite for them too.
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