Shamar Joseph on wicket of Steven Smith – ‘I’ll take a picture, and post it up’

There are dream debuts, and then there is Shamar Joseph’s debut. To begin with, he became the first ever from his tiny village of Baracara in Guyana – the place has a measly population of 350 – to represent West Indies in a Test during the first Test against Australia in Adelaide.

Then he hit the highest score by a West Indies No.11 on debut, his innings of 36 including a six off Josh Hazlewood. Once that was done, Shamar Joseph became the 23rd player in Test history – and the second from West Indies – to take a wicket with his first ball, claiming the prized wicket of a man he admires in Steven Smith.

“Getting Steve Smith, I’ll remember this for the rest of my life,” Shamar Joseph said after the first day’s play. “I’ll actually take a picture, and post it up in my house.”

Shamar Joseph had already predicted to his team-mates earlier in the day that he would get a wicket with his first ball.

“I didn’t know it was Steve Smith,” he said. “That went well for me. I went with a positive mindset. You’re coming up against the best team in Test cricket. So I just come with a positive mindset and do what I do best.”

Shamar Joseph came on to bowl with Australia 25 for 0 after West Indies had been bowled out for 188. Smith had looked very comfortable until then, having struck two boundaries to move to 12 in his first innings as a Test opener. Smith had hardly even been beaten by Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, with Roach’s pace dropping well below 130kph throughout his first spell.

Shamar Joseph had a false start with his first ball, aborting his run up from the Cathedral End. But he soon gathered his thoughts, ran in and delivered a 137kph good-length ball on a fifth-stump line. Smith shuffled back across but was squared up as it nipped away, and the edge flew low to fellow debutant Justin Greaves, who took an excellent catch at third slip.

“I didn’t miss my run-up; I was just nervous,” Shamar Joseph said of his initial run-up. “So I just went and built in my mind to get the first ball right – just on top of off stump. I [had] watched back a few Test matches of Steve Smith, and I think that is an area of weakness for him. So I just say that I will just hit the top of off because he’s a batter that triggers across a lot; he tries to take you off of your line. So I just stuck to the basic, hit just on top of off, getting a little movement away, and got the edge.”

Shamar Joseph wheeled away, and sprinted to the Eastern stands to celebrate.

“If I could have run over [the stands], I would have,” Shamar Joseph said. “It was really a joy for me.”

Shamar Joseph didn’t stop there. He consistently hit 140kph in a probing spell that had Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne under enormous pressure. He then delivered a 141kph bouncer at Labuschagne who instinctively hooked, but got a top edge to fine leg where Gudakesh Motie took the catch. Was getting his second Test wicket as good as his first?

“No, not at all,” Shamar Joseph said. “Getting Steve Smith is always the biggest dream.”

“I want to do so much for Baracara. It might not happen when I want it to. But I know in the future I will go up there and do a lot for them because they always support me”

Shamar Joseph comes from the remote village of Baracara in Guyana

Earlier in the day, Shamar Joseph was also an unlikely hero with the bat, when hit made 36 off 41 balls, the joint-fifth-highest score by a West Indies No.11. West Indies were 133 for 9 when he walked in to join Roach at the crease, facing Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc. Earlier in the week, he had gone to a local sports store in Adelaide to buy a miniature bat for his children, and instinctively bought an arm guard as well, thinking it might come in handy against Australia’s quicks.

“I needed it, but it’s just [that] they didn’t hit me on my hand; I got hit on my head [instead],” Shamar Joseph said.

Starc hit him on the grill, and Shamar Joseph admitted it was the fastest bowling he had ever faced in his life. But he still managed to hit Starc for four, and then launched Josh Hazlewood into the Members Stand for six.

“That was amazing for me,” he said. “Hitting Josh for a six is really good for me. I think he’s really consistent. He’s the most consistent bowler I have ever faced so far in my career. So hitting him for a six motivated me a lot. I think I could hit any bowler now.”

Shamar Joseph said the village of Baracara would not have slept, having watched him through the night. His story is worthy of a movie, given the remoteness of Baracara and the life he had growing up in a place that is so far removed from the modern world.

“It wasn’t financially stable, but you never miss a meal a day because you go fishing, [and] you plant your greens,” Shamar Joseph said. “So starvation wasn’t on our list. But you have to work to maintain yourself and your family. So growing up in Baracara, it’s a beautiful place. You will never suffer in Baracara because there’s always an easy life to make up there.

“I know the support up there is really lovely and amazing for me. I could actually feel it from here. I want to do so much for Baracara. It might not happen when I want it to. But I know in the future I will go up there and do a lot for them because they always support me. People support you a lot, and encourage you to keep going, [and] to do what you love. And those words of encouragement is amazing for me and my career moving forward.”

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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