Shai Hope says he has not given up on the dream of forging a successful Test career, despite having not played the longest format in nearly 17 months.
Already 29, the stylish right-hander has continued to struggle in Tests, averaging 25 from 38 matches with only two hundred — both coming in the second Test at Headingley six years ago. His last four innings — in a two-Test series against Sri Lanka in Galle — yielded a disappointing 53 runs.
“It hasn’t been going the way I’d like in the longer format,” said Hope, who has scored heavily in One-Day Internationals with an average of 50 despite his Test misery. But any opportunity I get to play Test cricket for the West Indies again, I’m keen to grasp with both hands and turn things around in my Test career.
“The aim is for me, regardless of where I’m playing or what format it is, is to score runs. I’ll try to learn from my experiences. It’s about not dwelling too much on the past and learning quickly from the experiences you’ve been through.”
The peak of Hope’s Test career came at Headingley where he produced knocks of 147 and 118 not out to steer West Indies to an astonishing final-day victory over England, the visitors chasing down a difficult 322.
Hope’s feat represented the first time in over 100 years of first-class cricket at Headingley that a batsman has scored hundreds in both innings of a game.
“I had no idea about the record. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than getting us over the line,” Hope said. Anything you do like that is special, and it’s something I will live happily with. But I don’t concentrate on records and statistics as much as some people may think. As long as I’m winning, that’s all that matters. I’d rather have a sub-par personal record and win more matches.”
Hope, recently appointed ODI captain, returned to Leeds for a three-match County stint with Yorkshire, where former West Indies head coach Ottis Gibson now serves in the top role.
In his first outing last week, he carved out a typically fluent 83 in the second innings but found himself on the losing end as Leicestershire chased down 389 on the final day.
“The thing about the game of cricket is that anyone can win on any given day or week,” Hope said. It’s just about making sure the team learns from the mistakes made. There were a lot of positives we, and I, could take from that game. Hopefully, we can crack on in this game [against Gloucestershire] if we get on and move into the season as well. It was a tough start against Leicestershire, but there are a lot of good signs.”
Yorkshire’s hopes of a quick turnaround against Gloucestershire in the Division Two fixture have been scuppered, with the first two days of the four-day match rained off.