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Shai Hope: The turning point of Windies cricket

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Roar Rookie
10th May, 2019
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It is the West Indies of old that everyone is hoping to relive all over again.

Cricket, though invented by the English, was taken to a new level by the Windies, when they stamped their dominance on the game in the 1980s.

While dashers and crashers have been the hallmark of Caribbean cricket, the classier batsmen have also held their own alongside them.

Brian Lara – one of the most elegant middle-order batsmen of all time – performed several rescue acts for his side, wearing down the opposition through his subtle yet effective style of play.

Now, it is Shai Hope who has come to the fore and has rapidly proved himself as a calm and composed customer.

Hope’s transformation into a gun player has come after a far from promising start.

Having established himself as the mainstay of a volatile batting line-up, the Barbadian became an all-format batsman.

The longest format was a stern test until he roared back with twin centuries at Headingley in 2017, stunning the Englishmen, grinding away Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson.

It was the 50-over set-up that required some revamping.

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The absence of Chris Gayle left the Windies far more inexperienced, but the amalgamation of two vastly different batsmen – Hope and Shimron Hetmyer – made sure they didn’t crumble.

West Indies batsman Shai Hope

Shai Hope is a key man for the West Indies at the 2019 World Cup. (Photo by Randy Brooks / AFP / Getty Images)

In the ODI series against India and Bangladesh in late 2018, Hope averaged a whopping 62.50 and 297 respectively.

After taking the top-ranked 50-over team to the breaking point, the West Indies elevated themselves to a whole new level.

Undeniably, Gayle’s return boosted the top order drastically and immediately made a telling impact. But Hope’s presence ensured that the middle order didn’t decompose.

The following tri-series cemented that he is a class above the rest of the crew.

Against Ireland, after a slow start, the Windies notched the highest opening stand in ODI cricket. Sure, the Irish bowlers were more than easy to deal with, but in Hope’s innings of 170, there were a handful strokes of luck, brute force, eye-catching straight drives, and a few sloppy assists from the Irish fieldsmen.

But the next game against Bangladesh, Jason Holder’s men were up against a well-oiled unit.

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It required the 25-year-old to hang in there play a laborious knock when other batters around him were failing.

The right-hander also looked in good nick, playing all the textbook shots, clattering away the Bangladeshi bowlers for boundaries with authority, marching his way to another century.

The Windies are about umpteen steps away from restoring back the glory days, however, they have got a head start.

They cannot afford to throw it away, for they have shown themselves as gifted cricketers.

For the slowly emerging heroes of Caribbean cricket, the grandest stage in the 50-over game presents a challenge that is bigger than anything.

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Shai Hope could be one of the many decisive factors that determines the Windies’ position in the World Cup tournament.