From Logging Timber to Rattling Timber
The journey of the young boy from a small maroon town in Guyana backwaters to cricketing greatness
The tall tree fell with a loud thud. Just barely missed crashing on to young Joseph. He seemed completely unaware of what happened. Even as his dad and siblings who were slightly away, watched this moment with horror. It was perhaps then, that they decided that this boy will not be working anymore in logging.
In a small town called Baracara in East Berbice Corentyne, Guyana, 225 km up on the banks of the Canje River, 2 days away by boat from the port city of New Amsterdam, Joseph grew up with three sisters and five brothers. All of them worked in the logging industry sending down timber to New Amsterdam. The small town had no internet till 2019. It just had one black & white television and some landlines for communication.
Joseph used to watch the highlights of test cricket matches on that black & white television set. He watched Courtney Walsh & Curtley Ambrose, the great opening fast bowlers of the West Indies teams with eyes full of wonder. Joseph started imitating their bowling style with fruits such as lemons, limes, guavas and peaches along with a tape ball. They called it the jungle-land cricket in Baracara.
When his family sent him off to New Amsterdam with a hope that he would get to play more, Joseph started working first as a construction labourer. He later took up another job as security guard doing long 12-hour day & night shifts, leaving little scope for playing cricket. It was his fiancée, who eventually pushed Joseph to quit working and supported him as he began to pursue his cricketing ambitions full time.
We now have the benefit of hindsight to say that Joseph had this knack of starting everything with a bang.
He took 6 wickets and gave away just 13 runs in his debut Division 1 game. He again stunned everyone by taking 8 wickets in another trial game. The authorities decided to pick him for 1st class cricket for Guyana. Meanwhile he also had another big moment when he joined a fast bowling clinic run by Ambrose.
The turning point was to come a little later when Shamar Joseph was announced as one of the 8 uncapped players selected to tour Australia for the 2024 test series.
This is where he again begins with a bang. With his first ever ball in Test Cricket at the Adelaide Oval, he stunned the world by taking the wicket of the great Steve Smith. Shamar Joseph had arrived with a fifer in his test match debut.
And on 28th Jan 2024, in a sensational burst of inspired fast bowling, on a tense 5th day afternoon at the Gabba, running in with a badly injured toe that was crushed earlier by a yorker from Mitchell Starc - he was not even sure if he would make it the ground, Shamar Joseph turned back the times to take 7 Australian wickets to land West Indies their first win in 27 years on their soil.
Shamar Joseph. Remember the name.
Watching him run up, load, take that jump at the crease and let loose his fierce deliveries that rattle the timber behind the batsman, sending them cartwheeling, is just pure unbridled joy. It is the most beautiful sight to behold in cricket.
Shamar Joseph’s story has just begun. A journey of a young boy with raw talent, hunger, passion with a deep love of the game from the backwaters of Guyana. Another miracle story not just for sport, but for life, where adversity played the role of a positive propeller.
Of luck, that always picks it’s great timing and hangs out its hand, daring us to grab that opportunity. Of a beautiful family that did not not want their precocious boy to get lost amidst timber and instead dreamt of him rattling the timber behind great batsmen on 22 yard strips!
May many such stories bloom and inspire us.
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