THREE years ago, Windies teenagers — Alzarri Joseph, Shimron Hetmyer and Keemo Paul — helped their side squeeze a controversial win over Zimbabwe in an ICC Under-19 World Cup game that triggered headlines around the globe.
The manner in which the Windies powered to a nervy two-run victory in that winner-take-all contest in Chittagong left a bitter taste in the mouth and provoked outrage across the world in a game that has always prided itself as the ultimate sport of gentlemen.
Purists of the sport were outraged as the Windies used a controversial Mankad dismissal to seal their win, progress to the next stage, and dump Zimbabwe out of the main tournament.
Former Australia coach Darren Lehman branded it a disgrace.
Zimbabwe, needing just three runs to win with just one wicket remaining, crashed to defeat when fast-bowler Keemo Paul removed the bails, as he ran in to bowl the first ball of the final over, and appealed for a run out of Richard Ngarava at the non-striker’s end.
The umpires debated what had just transpired and asked the Windies if they wanted to withdraw the appeal, an offer which captain Shimron Hetmyer declined, forcing the officials to refer the decision to the third umpire who ruled Ngarava had been run out.
The Windies earned a two-run victory, and a spot in the quarter-finals, while Zimbabwe — who would have qualified with a victory — were relegated to the Plate section.
Hetmyer had scored just 17 in the Windies innings, Paul added 14 while Joseph was bowled for a duck as they reached 226/9 with Rugare Magarira taking 3-28 for Zimbabwe, Wesley Madhevere 2-48 and Brandon Mavhuta 1-34.
In reply, Shaun Snyder fired at the top with a 52 for Zimbabwe, Jeremy Ives added 37, Adam Keefe 43 while Madhevere scored 21 with Joseph the destroyer-in-chief with 4-30 from his 10-overs in a man-of-the-match show.
The Zimbabweans would crush South Africa by eight wickets, in the Plate semi-final, with Ngarava taking 4-10 in nine overs, only to fall in the final by five wickets to Afghanistan.
The Windies grew in strength from that controversial elimination of Zimbabwe and beat Pakistan in the quarter-finals of the Super League, ousted Bangladesh in the semi-finals and then demolished India by five wickets in the final to be crowned World Champions.
Three years later, Joseph, who lost his mother recently but chose to play in a Test match against England, Hetmyer and Paul have become the new baby faces of the Windies cricket team which recently beat the English in a Test series for the first time in 10 years.
Speedster Joseph took 10 wickets during the three-Test series, which the Windies won 2-1, Hetmyer scored 160 runs, including a best knock of 81, while Paul took three wickets while also scoring 69 runs.
‘’Two comprehensive wins set-up West Indies’ first Test series triumph over England since 2009,’’ wrote Vithushan Ehantharajah for Cricbuzz.
‘’So, how about that Shimron Hetmyer? A glorious 81 in the first innings of the tour, blitzing England’s attack, all while wearing a Fresh Prince smile and a gold chain with a bat for a pendant. Where do we sign?
‘’Or perhaps Alzarri Joseph was more your vibe. Brooding, angled approach, quick arm and a bright white watch at odds with the unflashy muted celebrations that followed each of his 10 wickets.
‘’The admirable stability of mind and soul to come out and perform upon the passing of his mother. They make their 20-year-olds tough in Antgua.
‘’Maybe even the merest sight of Keemo Paul in the third Test has granted him your vote? He was the pick of the bowlers on day one and was sorely missed in the second innings when his quadricep gave way at the start of day three. In case you had forgotten, he’s also the Mankad kid. What’s not to love?
‘’And, in their own ways, these three graduates of the U19 side that won the World Cup in 2016 have showcased the depth of talent coming through in the Caribbean.’’
But while the Windies trio have got their big breakthrough on the Test arena, and are now shining brightly, the Zimbabwean players they fought against in that thriller in Bangladesh three years ago still find themselves struggling for opportunities to break into the Test side.
Only Brandon Mavuta, from that team, has squeezed his way into the Test side, making his debut against Bangladesh last year, and has just two Tests under his belt.
Ngarava, a 21-year-old left-arm fast bowler would probably have made his Test breakthrough when he was included in the squad for the series against Bangladesh last year, only to withdraw after sustaining a groin injury.
He made his ODI debut against Afghanistan in Harare two years ago and played his last ODI against Bangladesh last October.
But all-rounder Madhevere, whose reputation has been growing, 21-year-old Snyder, 22-year-old Ives, 21-year-old Magarira and Keefe, who were good enough to go toe-to-toe against those Windies teenagers in Bangladesh three years ago, are still waiting for the rain.
Maybe, with new coach Lalchand Rajput in charge, there is a chance the young players will get their breakthrough.
“After all, he is a specialist in working with youth teams and correctly predicted that Virat Kohli, who was part of the Indian Under-19 team under his tutelage during a tour of England 13 years ago, would become the best batsman in the world.
“The batsmen to impress the most were Delhi’s Virat Kohli, captain Tanmay Srivastava of Uttar Pradesh, opener Parvez Aziz of Assam and Bodapati Sumanth of Andhra,’’ Rajput told the Press Trust of India.
“Kohli showed strong technical skills against both pace and spin.’’
Source : The Herald