FEATURE: West Indies need to look beyond Shai Hope in Tests

(source: twitter)

A batsman has to be good, or decent at least, to have represented his country in as many as 33 Test matches and that too, within a span of just five years. But when you look at the career numbers of Shai Hope, you can’t help but wonder how he made it this far.

After 33 Tests and 62 innings, his batting average reads a meager 26.35. Apart from his heroic act against England at Headingley in 2017, during which he smashed twin tons to lead West Indies to victory, there is hardly anything to look at in Hope’s Test career so far. In fact, his performances after that has been so poor that those two knocks of 147 and 118* at Headingley constitute 17 percent of his overall Test runs till now.

Even in the ongoing series against England, he is averaging a dismal 14.25 after four innings with his scores across these outings reading 16, 9, 25 and 7 respectively. However, what has convinced the selectors and the team management to retain their faith in Hope even after so many failures is probably his meteoric rise in ODI cricket during the same period.

Even though his Test career didn’t take off after his Headingley tryst, his ODI form soared to new heights. Hope has amassed 2665 ODI runs during this period at an outstanding average of 55.52. That’s the third highest aggregate of runs in ODIs in this timeframe and only India’s Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma have scored more runs than him. Not only that, Hope’s tally of eight ODI hundreds is the third-most during this period as well.

However, when his Test performances during the same period are considered, he comes out as one of the worst batsmen. His average of 24.29 is the second worst among batsmen who have batted in at least 20 innings between positions 3 and 7 during this timeframe. Only Moeen Ali has a worse batting average than Hope.

 

Players Innings Runs Average 100s 50s
Moeen Ali 27 477 17.66 0 2
Shai Hope 39 899 24.29 0 4
Sarfaraz Ahmed 22 553 26.33 0 5
Jonny Bairstow 46 1191 26.46 3 4
Roston Chase 40 1049 26.89 2 5

Table: Batsmen with worst Test average (minimum 20 innings) since 26 August 2017

 In fact, his twin tons in Headingley remain his only Test hundreds till now. He has gone past the fifty-run mark only four times since then. In the remaining 35 outings, he has been dismissed under 20 in a total of 20 instances. So, that sums up how shaky he is right from the onset of his innings in this format.

Any batsman who has been given this many number of chances in this format of the game needs to do better. His numbers are not only one of the worst among the current set of batsmen but his average is the fifth-worst among top-order batsmen in Tests since 1990.

 

So it’s high time that West Indies decided to move on from Hope. They now have the depth and quality to find a proper replacement for the 26-year-old at No.3. Shamarh Brooks has shown good temperament so far. He has all the necessary skills and technique as well to meet the demands that come with the role of a no.3 batter. Apart from Brooks, there is Joshua Da Silva waiting in the wings as well. The youngster not only had a terrific domestic season but scored a century in the practice game of this tour as well.

As far as Hope’s future in the format is concerned, the selectors and the team management should ask him to go back and grind his way back into the side on the weight of good performances in their domestic first-class competition. After all, that was the route Jermaine Blackwood took to reclaim his position in the Test side and he is reaping the rewards of his hard work now. Hope should follow suit and hope for the best.

About Prasenjit Dey

Prasenjit Dey is freelance cricket journalist based out of Kolkata, India. Cricket runs through his veins and writing has always been his passion. He is now a part of both worlds, trying to make a difference by writing on the nitty-gritty of the game.

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