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'Test cricket - it's easy!': Joseph steals show with dream debut, Green marks return with two stunners

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17th January, 2024
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You have been forgiven for not knowing who West Indies quick Shamar Joseph was when he walked to the crease midway through the tourists’ afternoon batting collapse.

He is on debut this week and possessed a stunning batting average of just 7 in first class cricket, so expectations weren’t high, especially given the Windies had lost three wickets for just one run in the quarter hour before he walked in.

Yet the Guyanese, who was working as a nightclub bouncer a year ago, let loose on the much-vaunted Australian attack, launching four boundaries to go to tea on 31 off 33.

One shout, a huge six, was his first ever in any form of professional cricket, and his partnership with Kemar Roach went past 50 before Joseph was pinned by Nathan Lyon for 36.

It got even better. Coming on at first change, he got Steve Smith, the new Aussie opener, caught in the slips by Justin Graves with his very first ball in Test cricket.

In his fourth over, Marnus Labuschagne couldn’t resist swinging at a short ball and found himself caught on the boundary by Gudakesh Motie.

“The young kid has had a screamer of a day,” said Ian Smith after Joseph’s second wicket.

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“Watch him go! He’s off! You’ve got to love it. ‘I know this game, it’s called Test cricket. I dreamed about playing it – it’s easy!’”

It wasn’t all easy, with Joseph losing his run-up and even dropping the ball on the way to the crease at one point, but it was as much through overenthusiasm as anything else. He ended with figures of 2-18 for the day.

“I had a few conversations with the boys in the dressing room. I told them that I would get a wicket on my first ball,” Joseph said. 

“But I didn’t know it was Steve Smith.

“Since I got the call up, a lot people are saying I want you to get Steve Smith, I want you to get Steve Smith. Everybody was just about Steve Smith. I really love Steve Smith.

“I watched back a few Tests with Steve Smith. And I think that area’s is a weakness for him. I just say that I will just hit the top of off. 

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“Because he is a batsman who moves across a lot. He tries to take you off your line. I just stick to the basic, hit just on top of off. Get a little movements away. And I got the edge.”

Adding Labuschagne to his double strike was nothing to sneeze at either.

“(After dismissing Smith) I thought ‘I could get any other batsman here’,” Joseph said.

“I will remember this for the rest of my life. I will actually take a picture and post it in my house.”

Joseph was so unheralded that, in an interview on The Final Word cricket podcast, journalist Bharat Sundaresan revealed that he had taken the bowler around Adelaide to buy his son a new bat – only for Sundaresen to be recognised in the shop, but not the Test cricketer.

“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 said 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.”

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Green marks return with two stunners

Cameron Green is back in the Test side and into the action straight away, with a trademark catch in the gully to dismiss Tagenarine Chanderpaul off the bowling of Pat Cummins.

The opener flashed a delivery from the captain’s first over, sending a very difficult chance to Green, who pouched it above his head in spectacular fashion.

“That’s why he’s there!” exclaimed Isa Guha on the Fox commentary. “Bucket hands snaffles one early!”

Mark Waugh quickly pointed out the benefits of bringing back the best fielder in the team.

“He covers about four spots there in the gully,” said Junior.

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“It’s a very good catch, it went very quickly. That’s why he’s in the team: he can bat, bowl and he can catch.

“He doesn’t drop many. He catches balls that other fielders wouldn’t get close to. He’s back, Cameron Green.”

Later on, he doubled down with another smart snaffle in the gully, this time dismissing Kavem Hodge. Though the second was more directly at him, it still came at a serious rate and was well taken by Green.

Renshaw released back to BBL

Matt Renshaw will be available for the Brisbane Heat’s crucial Big Bash League qualifier on Friday night on the Gold Coast with the reserve batter freed from his Test obligations by Cricket Australia.

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He had been on standby for injuries ahead of the West Indies match, but with the game started, he can now travel to Queensland to play for the Heat, who could seal a home final with a win.

“Matthew Renshaw will be released from the Australian men’s squad to play for the Brisbane Heat against the Sydney Sixers in the KFC BBL qualifier on Friday,” said a statement.

“Renshaw will join the Heat tomorrow evening before returning to Adelaide on Saturday for day four the NRMA Insurance Test match against the West Indies.”

Cummins breaks 40-year tradition

Pat Cummins is about to experience something new in Test cricket: captaining “on the fly”.

He’s started as he means to go on, too, by electing to field at the Adelaide Oval – the first home captain to do so since 1980.

It sets an interesting precedent: the opponents that year were the West Indies, who went on to win by a ridiculous 408 runs.

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Granted this year’s tourists are not of the level of a side that including Viv Richards, Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes off the top of the order, but it is still a risky move from the Australian captain.

Rival captain Kraigg Brathwaite suggested that he was happy with the decision and would have chosen to bat, but nevertheless, one of the legends agreed with Cummins.

“I think it’s a great call, I think it’s the right call,” said Brett Lee on the Fox call.

“Aussies to set the tone first and get that opportunity with this brand new ball.”

Australia’s skipper knows little about many of his opponents in the first Test starting on Wednesday in Adelaide. The tourists feature seven cricketers who have played eight or fewer Tests.

Three of them – Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves and Shamar Joseph – will make their Test debut at Adelaide Oval.

Which leaves Cummins, whose least experienced Test teammate is Cameron Green (24 Tests), admitting he’ll be captaining “kind of on the fly”.

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“It’s rare you get that in international cricket,” he said. “But that’s exciting.

“We’ll do a bit of research and try and get our heads around some of the players I’ve seen before. But really a lot of it’s going to be getting out there and that is going to be our first kind of feel for some of these players.”

A senior core of West Indians including former captain Jason Holder chose cashed-up global T20 tournaments instead of the Australian Test tour.

“Obviously as a Test cricket lover, I’d hope that you’re fielding your strongest side, whatever country, whatever time of year,” Cummins said. “But it’s not the case so you can’t force anyone out on the field.

“I know all these (West Indies Test) guys have been picked on strong domestic form, a couple of guys that we saw last summer were pretty strong. So it’s the way it is.”

Asked what the International Cricket Council (ICC) should do to prevent players opting for T20 leagues instead of Test matches, Cummins wasn’t sure.

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“It’s hard. Each country is in a different position,” he said. “Big picture stuff, it’s not not really my forte.

“But yeah, it’s challenging. I haven’t heard one kind of silver bullet yet but I wish there was one.”

West Indies captain Brathwaite wants the ICC to schedule more Test matches in the Caribbean to help his team inspire a younger generation to covet the five-day contests.

And Brathwaite also hoped this tour of Australia, where the West Indies haven’t won a Test since February 1997, offers his young teammates a golden chance.

“They have have a great opportunity here in order to seal the deal and don’t ever leave this Test team,” he said.

“Performance is always important so here is (a chance for) each player to go there and make a name for yourself and play Test cricket for the next 10 years. Simple.”

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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.

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