The Roar
The Roar


'Rose that grew from concrete': Windies tyro's incredible 12 month rise from bouncer to Tests, Smith's 'mind whirring'

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16th January, 2024

Young paceman Shamar Joseph – who quit his job as a security guard a year ago to pursue his dream of playing first class cricket – is one of three West Indies debutants picked to face Australia in the first Test in Adelaide.

While the Aussies confirmed the expected route of Steve Smith at opener and Cameron Green coming into the middle order to replace the retired David Warner, there was plenty of intrigue among the tourists’ ranks.

Captain Kraigg Brathwaite announced middle-order pair Kavem Hodge and Justin Greaves would join Joseph in winning their first caps.

A year ago, Jospeh hadn’t even made his debut for his local team – the Guyana Harpy Eagles – before winning a call up for the opening two rounds of a Regional Four-Day Championship.

Joseph, who hails from a remote rural village of Baracara in Guyana has played just five first class matches since his debut but rose into calculations with 12 wickets on a Windies A tour of South Africa.

A young dad, he quit his steady job in a bid to provide for his family, including a two-year-old son.

Shamar Joseph at Adelaide Oval on January 01, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images for Cricket Australia)

Shamar Joseph at Adelaide Oval on January 01, 2024 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Sarah Reed/Getty Images for Cricket Australia)

“I quit my job because this is what I want and I always could have made it because I have the confidence I could have made it,” he told his local paper last year.


“The mother of my child is the one who is there for me, supporting me right through. She always encourages me that if this is what I want, she would be there to brace me whenever I am down and she is there for me, always.”

The rags to riches story has captivated his home town.

“A rose that grew from concrete, a man who made sacrifices and maintained discipline. That’s the description in a nutshell of Guyana Harpy Eagles’ latest selectee, Shamar Joseph,” wrote Brandon Corlette in the Guyana Times.

“The 23-year-old father of one left his job at a security firm to focus on cricket, and he has been rewarded after much hard work and determination.”

The paceman has signed for the Dubai Capitals in the International League T20 and also featured in the Guyana Amazon Warriors squad that won last year’s Caribbean Premier League, although he only played two matches and failed to take a wicket.

An assignment against the world champion Australians looms as a tough one for the youngster although he showed promise earlier on this tour, taking 2-28 against a Cricket Australia XI. One bouncer flew over the top for four byes.


“He’s fantastic, he gets it through well,” West Indies wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva said of Joseph. “He just has a bit of pace, man.”

Former Windies star Ian Bishop told CricInfo he was excited by Joseph’s raw attributes – he has a top line speed of around 140kph.

“I caught a sight of him in the nets and he has hustle, bustle and really comes at you,” said Bishop.

“There’s a lot of high hopes for him because of his attitude and because of his physical capabilities.”

Meanwhile Pat Cummins confirmed Australia would line up as expected.

“We were pretty open that we thought Cam Green was in our top six batters and really all that was to iron out was the details around the order,” Cummins told reporters.

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 30: Cameron Green of Western Australia plays a shot during day 3 of the Sheffield Shield match between Queensland and Western Australia at The Gabba, on November 30, 2023, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Cameron Green plays a shot during a Sheffield Shield match at The Gabba. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

“It wasn’t until around then that we started chatting seriously to Smudge and found out just how keen he was and the reasons why …

“It all made sense to get Smithy into a position that he’d love to bat in, and Green into a spot he’s scored Shield runs and knows pretty well, so it made good sense.”

He said the move had reinvigorated Smith.

“It’s a new challenge for him, which I don’t think you can underestimate,” Cummins told reporters.

“I’ve never seen him just as happy and as energetic as I have seen him around the nets the last couple of days.

“Seeing someone who has basically achieved everything in the game get really excited for a new challenge, you have got to entertain that.


“You can see already his mind whirring about how he’s going to maybe go about a little bit differently … it’s like a re-energising.”

Smith’s shock rise to an opening slot comes after prolific run-scoring at first drop and No.4 in the batting order.

The move wasn’t on the radar during retiring opener David Warner’s farewell Test series against Pakistan, only for Smith to push the prospect.

“The first conversation is always what’s the batting group and order that you think is going to give you the best chance of winning and scoring the most runs,” Cummins said.

“And obviously the individual is really important within that, especially someone like Steve who is going to be one of the highest scorers wherever he bats basically.

“Again, seeing him really keen for the challenge and seeing a way where he can think he can score more runs … give it a shot.

“In terms of giving a long term play, yeah, absolutely.


“Our intention isn’t just to give you some Tests to see how it goes.

“We want to make sure it’s a shift that’s pretty much permanent and we want to give it a good crack for not only Steve but with (Cameron) Green and the rest of the order.

“I think he (Smith) will thrive anywhere he bats, to be honest, he’s that good.

“But top of the order, the ball is a little bit harder, it does ping off the bat a bit differently, potentially the field placements might be a little bit different.

“He loves the problem solving aspect and trying something new so it’s all set up for him.”

Australia XI: Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Mitch Marsh, Alex Carey (wk), Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins (c), Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood.

West Indies XI: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva (wk), Gudakesh Motie, Alzarri Joseph, Shamar Joseph, Kemar Roach.


(With AAP)