Shai Hope: Players need to adapt to empty stands

West Indies stumper-batsman Shai Hope, who helped his side win the Headingley Test in 2017, wants to continue in the key role in the series.

From left: Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope and Rahkeem Cornwall at Manchester airport on June 9.   -  GETTY IMAGES


In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, when most of the teams have decided to wait and watch before resuming international cricket, West Indies is in England for a three-match Test series starting July 8.

It won’t be an easy assignment for the touring side. With three of its top cricketers — Darren Bravo, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul — pulling out of the tour, the onus is on batting duo Kraigg Braithwaite and Shai Hope.

Three summers ago, when the Caribbeans toured England, Braithwaite and Hope hogged the limelight with a remarkable run-chase in the second Test in Headingley.

Hope wants to continue in the key role. "It’s very important for us to get those runs on the board, and making it easy for batters down the line,” Hope said in an interaction on Tuesday.

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While Hope is aware that England has some of the big names in its bowling arsenal, he believes that in the end, it will be all about resilience. "They are big names (but) we can’t only play names…” he said, adding that the prime objective would be to play quality cricket.

"We are getting there nicely. Weather is a factor but we have to get used to it. We have to adapt,” he said about the bio-bubble environment. Ever since touching base in Manchester, West Indies has entered the bio-bubble at Old Trafford.

And ahead of the series, Hope feels that it is important to step up as and when the team requires. “Whenever you have the opportunity, take it and deliver…” he said, adding that they will miss the presence of Bravo and Hetmyer, but it is crucial that players put their hands up and fare well.

After the heroics in Headingley in 2017, Hope has struggled in the longer format of the game, but he aims to overcome the odds. “I am scoring more in ODIs and less in Tests. I want to change that. Red ball is my favourite. I can’t pinpoint anything at this stage [about the issue]. There hasn’t been any major change in the way I prepare, maybe, just a bit of tweaking,” he said.

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This series is being touted as a battle between West Indies and Jofra Archer, the England fast bowler who is a Barbadian. “We have played together in one-dayers. We are friends. But, you have to take friendship out when you are on the field,” the West Indies stumper-batsman said.

The last time he guided West Indies home in England, the fans gave him a standing ovation. But this time, there will be no spectators. “I love the crowd, I love when they cheer,” said Hope, adding that eventually it will be up to the individual players how they adapt.

He also believes quality cricket will win them the series. The next few weeks will be tough, but Hope remains hopeful.

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