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Predictions about the Windies cricket team come to pass

TAKE THAT: Shai Hope in action

IT WAS in June that 'The Voice' suggested that if there was a player that was going to lift the West Indies out of the doldrums it would be batsman Shai Hope. So said so done.

The Barbados protege notched two centuries in the five wicket win over England at the second Test in Headingley and earned himself superlatives.

Having been beaten out of sight in the first Test at Edgbaston it is all to play for in the deciding fixture at Lord’s which starts tomorrow (September 7).

Hope, 24, created history by becoming the first batsman in the sport’s long and illustrious history to score two hundreds at the famous Yorkshire ground.

ABILITY

Apart from writing himself into the annals of the game, Hope proved that he is a star in the making and that the West Indies - much maligned over the last two decades - have the ability to fight back.

They were simply awful as they lost in Birmingham inside three days in a one-sided match. The stick that this correspondent had to endure, during and after that thrashing, was painful but based on a collective horror showing, totally justified.


WELL DONE: Shai Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite celebrate

Hope - and fellow run machine Kraigg Brathwaite - have restored some pride despite some shoddy fielding and decision-making threatening to deny the team victory at Headingley.

Hope is a fine batsman and also modest. His post-match interviews after the second Test success were limited to say the least. He said:

“Someone had to do it and I just put my hand up for the team.

On his cool demeanour he said:

“I could smile afterwards as the job was done.”

West Indies selectors have not come in for praise in recent times but they should be applauded for allowing those so soundly beaten in the first Test to rectify their mistakes.

Windies legend, now Sky Sports commentator, Michael Holding was full of praise for Hope who had averaged just 18 in the longest format of the game prior to his heroics

“He’s a very good player, you could see that thoughout the Test match,” said the respected Jamaican.

“I had no idea that he was that good a player. He’d never made serious runs in Test match cricket before. But just looking at him and the composure he has shown, even when things got tricky, he batted right through unperturbed."

PERFECT

Hope’s two innings were enough for another Sky Sports pundit, Bob Willis, to compare the Bajan with talented England skipper Joe Root. Willis was compelled to say:

“They were two perfect innings in one match.”

Hope was ably assisted by compatriot Brathwaite who himself just failed to hit centuries in both innings.

Holding added:

“It did not surprise me. I know he’s a good player - he’s been making centuries since he was in short trousers.”

Now the hope, no pun intended, is that the tourists turn up to the Mecca of cricket and give of their best.

BELIEVE

When asked about his achievement and fledgling international career, the right-hand batsman confessed:

“I feel elated. I made my way here (international cricket) and I believe in myself.

“We fought hard through the game and we just had to execute with the bat.

“The aim is to kick on. Every time we step on to the field we try to improve as a team and individually. Hopefully we can string some displays together and get some good results.”

As the tour has progressed, there have been other notable performers wearing the famous maroon cap. Captain Jason Holder, spin bowler Roston Chase and big-hitting Jermaine Blackwood all caught the eye in Leeds.

As Holding said, one swallow does not make a summer but if the West Indies can build on the amazing win at Headingley the years of hurt may slowly be replaced with regular victories on the international stage.

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