‘Don’t allow burnout’ – Ian Bishop urges governing bodies to safeguard Shamar Joseph’s West Indies future

Throwing a voice of caution on a day of celebration, Ian Bishop urged the West Indies Cricket Board and Guyana cricket authorities to ensure that Shamar Joseph, their overnight Test star, has enough funds and a well-managed workload to sustain a career in the Caribbean.

Shamar Joseph’s stunning 7-68 scripted a thrilling eight-run victory in the pink-ball Test match at the Gabba, ending a 27-year drought for West Indies in Australia.

In overcast Brisbane on Day 4, the rookie pacer flipped the game on its head with his second fifer of the series that brought Australia’s 11-match winning streak in day-night Tests to a screeching halt.

He triggered a collapse of 4 for 23 before Dinner that the hosts couldn’t recover from despite Steve Smith’s gutsy 91*. With this, West Indies shared the spoils in the two-match series.

In a tweet that followed West Indies’ historic triumph over Australia, their first win in 27 years in the country, Bishop put focus on Joseph – the hero of the Gabba win – and “1 or 2 other fast bowlers” who shouldn’t be burnt out.

Bishop’s tweet read: “Important for the board, Guyana govt & cooperate bodies to find a way to allocate funds to compensate Shamar Joseph & 1 or 2 other fast bowlers to keep them in the Caribbean & control how much cricket they play. Their pace is everything. Don’t allow burnout.”

Joseph’s humble beginnings and unconventional path towards the Test cap have been widely discussed over the past two weeks, bringing hope into a West Indies cricketing system that has been fraught with talent loss, with players moving to greener pastures (read T20 franchise cricket).

Speaking to Wisden.com last year, Bishop had touched upon the topic of modern workloads, and how it was becoming harder to become an all-format bowler.

“It [workload] has to be managed, it has to be managed because it’s becoming harder and harder now to be an all-format player,” Bishop had said in February last year. “Particularly from a bowling perspective, but not exclusively. Guys are starting to have to prioritise their family time, their personal life a little bit more. Plus, you can’t, you can’t play every format over the year, you’ll just get burned out.”

“And it may not be so much just the games, but the practice sessions, the travelling, going from one franchise to the other. It is something that certainly has to be managed because the priority still has to be international cricket. That is the biggest shop window.”

The 24-year-old Joseph isn’t a T20 regular yet, although he was identified and fast-tracked from his Caribbean Premier League team Guyana Amazon Warriors. In December, he was signed up by Dubai Capitals to play in the International League T20.

Bishop, who was commentator in the league’s inaugural season last year, spoke to Wisden about the economy of smaller nations like West Indies and South Africa being a “struggle.”

“So we have to ensure in our own backyard that we allow players to earn a comfortable living,” he said.

“And if that means having some discussion where we’re playing just two-three leagues a year but still make ourselves available for international cricket, I think that’s fine,” Bishop continued. “Players will understand. At least the ones who are in the prime of their careers, because you don’t want to take a guy’s private money away, opportunity away from them.

“How long do you play international cricket for? So there needs to be a compromise.”

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