Shai Hope: ‘We did not have a good 2022 and we are trying everything to change it’

A career-defining century for a cricket captain should be enough to win a game of cricket, according to Shai Hope. And he wasn’t talking about himself.

“Temba Bavuma – A tackle like that deserves to be a winning tackle, but it turned out that we were victorious in the end. I must give him credit for the way he controlled the tackles. He played the situation well and really deserved to win the game, but there can only be one winner,” said Hope after the West Indies successfully defended 335 runs, their highest ever score against South Africa, in east London.

Bavuma hit a career-best 144, exactly one week after his best test of 172 in the last test and less than two months after hitting a series-winning 109 in the World Cup Super League victory of South Africa over England in Bloemfontein. He is a transformed player from who struggled to score runs during South Africa’s season-opening cue ball tour of India, where he made 11 runs in four innings, and the leader who oversaw their T20I World Cup campaign, which ended in defeat. to the Netherlands. Bavuma attributes the change to the simple truth of having more fun.

“I am enjoying my cricket at the moment,” Bavuma said. “My mind is much clearer as to what we’re trying to do and how we’re doing it, feeding off of the confidence I’m getting from the players and the new coaches.”

After his 172 in the Wanderers Test, Bavuma said he felt more supported by red ball coach Shukri Conrad than he had since coming under the wing of his national coach at the Lions, Enoch Nkwe (who also served as interim manager of South Africa for a trip to India in 2019) and that’s despite captaining two formats in the interim. In May 2021, Bavuma was put in charge of South Africa’s white ball teams, albeit with only six ODI and eight T20I caps to his name. While 50+ cricket is clearly his forte, the shorter format proved tricky, particularly from a strike rate perspective and since he was relieved of that role and put in charge of the Test team while retaining the concert over 50 years, Bavuma. has flourished.

His recent innings have shown us a hitter who is strong at sweeping and hard work, has opened up scoring areas both in front of and behind the square, and is capable of rotating strikes well. While it may seem like a revelation to those looking on from the outside, to Bavuma, it is simply a demonstration of “what was always there” now emerging.

“It’s just a matter of confidence. Confidence is an important thing for any athlete,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep up the form and momentum I got in the England series. I’m hitting the ball pretty well. I manage to find holes, which is a big thing for me as a hitting player. I can only hope it lasts. “.

Despite their best efforts on Saturday night, South Africa fell 48 runs away from beating West Indies, a team looking for a fresh start of their own. After losing 16 of the 20 ODIs they played last year, the West Indies are all but certain to miss out on automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup and need to start winning. The victory in South Africa, their first away against a team other than the Netherlands and Ireland since they beat Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2018, “means a lot”, as Hope said.

“It’s something we talk about in meetings. We are just trying to win more cricket games. We did not have a successful 2022 and we are doing everything we can to turn it around,” he said.

It also marks a successful start for new leadership. Hope is now in charge of the ODI squad, with 105 matches to his credit and plenty on his plate. Although he did not lead the batting in this match, as he has done since 2019, he batted from 10 onwards, held the wicket and captained and described the match as an “exhausting game for me”.

So how will he manage the many roles he has to play in what is a big ODI year for the West Indies? “I’m definitely going to take it full speed. It’s about giving it my all to the team,” Hope said. “I get support from all sides. I have support from guys on and off the field. I have to continue to accept responsibility and when the time comes to shine, I will.”

And it intends to apply that in all formats. As the first match of the ODI series unfolded, shortly after West Indies batting let them down in the Test series, there was talk as to whether the likes of Hope and former captain Nicholas Pooran should also be considered for the team. red ball. Based on the evidence from the East London ODI, the West Indies could take a turn for the worse, but there’s also an interesting context to Hope’s exclusion.

Like his Bavuma counterpart, Hope only has two Test centuries to his name, and they came in the same match. Hope has not played Test Cricket since December 2021. Asked if he would like to return to the longer format, Hope indicated that Hope will win.

“Something I always preach in camp: control what you can control. I can’t control what the selectors do, I can’t control things behind the scenes, all I can control is the way I prepare, the way I game and the performance that I put in the field”, said. “If the opportunity and opportunity arises, I will take it with both hands.”

Firdose Moonda is the ESPNcricinfo correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket.

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