By Brandon Corlette
Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. Shamar Joseph is a testimony of a man filled with faith.
From Baracara, Berbice Guyana to Australia and beyond the world, Joseph has won the hearts of many after his lion-hearted 7-68 against the World champions Australia.
Shamar is as genuine an individual as his pace.
Joseph’s player of the match and player of the series performance helped West Indies win a Test match in Australia for the first time in 27 years.
The 24-year-old Joseph inspired all when he bowled 11.5 overs on the trot with a suspected broken toe at high speeds of 150KMPH. What made Joseph more special, was the hunger and belief.
On day three of this second Test match at the Gabba, Joseph was struck by a Mitchell Starc-toe crusher and was forced to retire hurt. He was in severe pain and despite scans showed he was clear, the pain remained. Joseph was laying in his bed at the hotel and he was not prepared to bowl on the fourth day.
“I wasn’t even coming out to the ground this morning to be fair. I must give a shout-out to the doctor,” Joseph told the broadcaster after the game. “He is an amazing doctor to me. He told me to come to the ground for a reason, even if it’s just to support the guys.”
“But I came and he did something to my toe. I don’t know what he did but something worked. So I just had that time to go out there and bowl and bring this game home for my team,” Joseph said.
Last week, in the first Test in Adelaide, Joseph announced himself with a five-wicket haul on debut and 50 runs with the bat across both innings. He became the West Indian with the best ever performance on debut. His start to Test cricket was magical as he claimed Steven Smith’s wicket off the first of his career.
Joseph’s brilliance brought tears to the eyes of many, including cricket legends, Brian Lara and Carl Hooper, who were both working in commentary in the second Test at the Gabba.
Corlette’s perspective: Why Shamar Joseph was special even before his Test debut?
The world did not know about Shamar Joseph in January 2023. In fact, Joseph was wondering if he had done enough to make the senior Guyana National team for the West Indies Four-Day championship.
However, he had done enough with impressive spells at the trials.
Joseph came to me and said, Brandon Corlette, I will take five wickets when I play First-Class cricket, and when I do, you have to come to Baracara. I told him yes, but I was fearful of speed boats and did not really wanted to go that far.
While covering the 2023 Regional Four Day championship in Antigua and Grenada, I witnessed the Shamar-express train in action again. He troubled Barbados Pride in the first round in Antigua, and then demolished Windward Islands with his maiden First-Class five-wicket haul in Grenada.
At that point, I was already preparing my mind to sit in a speed boat for two hours and head to Baracara. I was forever grateful to produce an exclusive interview on Joseph in Baracara, a story which attracted thousands.
In February 2023, Joseph was known around Guyana, to at least 200,000 people, based on the Baracara interview reach.
President of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, Dr Irfaan Ali, who is a true lover of cricket, had also recognized Joseph’s talent even before he played for Guyana Amazon Warriors and West Indies. It is safe to say, that in addition to Joseph’s family and many supporters, President Ali has shown great interest in the young man and his development.
Joseph remained humble and grounded, while providing for his family. He is also a father of two sons.
The sacrifices he made
Nothing good comes easy. And Shamar has earned every bit of his success. Life in the remote village of Baracara was not easy.
In 2019, Shamar moved full time from Baracara to New Amsterdam to play cricket consistently and he occasionally attended the Guyana national team training sessions in Georgetown.
Joseph quit his job in 2021 as a security guard and moved to Georgetown to train full time with the Guyana national team and pursue his dream to play for Guyana and West Indies.
Joseph who lived three minutes away from the Guyana National Stadium at Providence, ensured he was present as a net-bowler at every opportunity. He was bowling close to 30 overs a day, working double sessions as a net-bowler. Amazon Warriors analyst Prasanna saw his talent and immediately recommended he was selected to play for the Amazon Warriors. He showed off his talent to the world, with his express pace.
Renowned cricket commentator and former West Indies fast-bowler Ian Bishop also spotted his talent, and while Bishop was in Guyana, he would usually offer advise to Joseph, face-to-face.
Current West Indies white-ball Head Coach Darren Sammy also showed interest with Joseph’s bowling, and had also called to see him bowl during net sessions.
Additionally, in 2023, Shamar was also introduced to a cricket agent from Australia, and she has guided him in cricket management.
Joseph went to South Africa with the West Indies ‘A’ team and claimed another five wicket haul late 2023.
This is just the beginning of Shamar’s journey, but his start to International cricket is simply sensational.
About this author
Brandon Corlette is an award winning cricket journalist. He was employed at Guyana Times and Television Guyana Inc between 2018-2023. He is also the founder of Cricnation592.
In addition to covering international and Regional matches in Barbados, Florida, St Lucia, Antigua, Grenada and Guyana, Corlette is the only journalist to have visited Baracara and tell the Shamar Joseph story.