Windies coach praises 'committed and focused' Alzarri Joseph

West Indies coach Richard Pybus has hailed Alzarri Joseph's work ethic and said that the young pacer has always been focused and committed.

Mumbai Indians paceman Alzarri Joseph's 6-12 helped Mumbai Indians to a 40-run victory.   -  Getty Images

"I play to win, not for the limelight," was Alzarri Shaheim Joseph's humble reaction after his dream debut in the Indian Premier League (IPL), where he scalped 6-12 against Sunrisers Hyderabad -- the best bowling figures in IPL history --- to set up a 40-run victory for Mumbai Indians.

To those who have seen the 22-year old from close quarters this does not come as surprise.

“He is a fantastic young bowler, who is serious about his work. He is committed and focused,” West Indies coach, Richard Pybus, tells Sportstar.

Pybus, who was previously the director of West Indies cricket, has known Joseph for a long time.

Having started playing cricket in his backyard, bowling to his father, Alva -- who has played along side Ridley Jacobs -- Joseph gradually broke into the age-group sides for Antigua and Leeward Islands. At 18, he had stormed into first-class cricket.

In 2016, Joseph spearheaded the pace attack of the West Indies team, which clinched the U-19 World Cup title in Bangladesh, defeating India in the final.

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After being sidelined due to a back injury, the young pace made his recovery under the supervision of West Indies' pace bowling legend Winston Benjamin. Joseph had to tweak his action a little in a bid to maintain the pace.

“He would come to the coaching staff and ask them what are the areas to work on. That shows his character. He is matured,” Pybus points out.

Despite losing his mother while playing the match against Engalnd, Alzarri Joseph informed the team that he will keep playing.   -  Getty Images

 

“He had a long time at the rehabilitation and then had to work on his action. He then came back, played first class cricket last year and got selected for the England series (in January-February).”

In the three Tests he played against England, Alzarri grabbed 10 wickets. However, the visiting side found it extremely difficult to play the youngster.

During the second Test, Joseph lost his mother, Sharon, before the start of third day’s play. However, the youngster informed the team that he will play.

“He really wanted to play. He told the team that he would like to feature in that game and we spoke about it. The team spoke about dedicating it (the game) to his mom and it was an exceptional cricket,” Pybus recollects.

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“He is an interesting character, he managed to control the emotions. He just got ahead with it. It was quite a thing and I don’t have a point of reference to compare it with something else.”

Known as the 'Game-Changer' in Caribbean cricketing circles, Pybus feels Alzarri needs to be ‘well managed’ after the back injury he had.

“He is quite serious about his game. He is focused on developing his character and he has got the control of his pace and can get stronger. Mentally, he is a strong guy, but it’s just that, he needs to be managed well for the longer run,” Pybus says, keeping next month’s World Cup in mind.

In red-hot form, Alzarri looks certain to make it to the squad for the World Cup in England, and Pybus is confident that the youngster would do well.

Andy Roberts loves his pace, Vivian Richards is in awe of his performance and Curtly Ambrose had once told him, “I am Antiguan, you’re Antiguan and I am proud.” It was not for nothing.