Shai Hope – ‘We didn’t have a good 2022, and we’re doing everything we can to change that’

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

“Temba Boma – an innings like that deserves to be a winning innings but it just so happened that we came out on top at the end, the way he controlled the innings, I have to give him credit. He turned the situation around. played well and really deserved to win the game but there can only be one winner,” Hope said as the West Indies successfully defended 335 runs – their highest total against South Africa – in east London. I.

Bavuma scored a career-best 144, exactly a week after his last Test 172 and less than two months after his series-winning 109 against England in South Africa’s World Cup Super League in Bloemfontein. He has transformed from a player who struggled to score runs during the season-opening white-ball tour of South Africa, where he scored 11 runs in four innings, to the leader who led their T20I World Cup. Oversaw the 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,” Bovuma said. “My mind is very clear on what we’re trying to do and how we’re trying to do it; taking away the confidence that I’m getting from the players as well as the new coaches.”

After his 172 in the Wanderers Test, Bavuma said he felt more supported by Red Ball coach Shukri Konrad than he did at Lions with his domestic coach Enoch Nkwe (who also served as South Africa’s interim coach). tour of India in 2019) and despite being captain in two formats on an interim basis. In May 2021, Bavuma was put in charge of South Africa’s white-ball sides, although he only had six ODI and eight T20 caps to his name. Although 50-over cricket is clearly his forte, the shortest format has proved difficult, especially from a strike-rate point of view, and after being relieved of that role, the Test team retained the 50-over gig. Became in charge, Bawuma has flourished.

His recent innings has shown us a batsman who is strong on the sweep and the slog, who has opened up scoring areas both in front and behind the square and who can rotate the strike well. While this may look like a revelation to outsiders, for Bauma, it is simply a manifestation of “what was always there,” now happening.

“It’s just a matter of trust,” he said. Confidence is a huge thing for any athlete. “I’m just trying to continue the form and the momentum that I had in the England series. I’m hitting the ball pretty well. I’m finding the gaps, which is a stroke player’s way. is a huge thing for me. Hopefully it continues.”

Despite their best efforts on Saturday evening, South Africa fell 48 runs short of defeating the West Indies, a team looking for a fresh start in their own right. Having lost 16 of the 20 ODIs they played last year, the West Indies are certain to miss out on automatic qualification for the 2023 World Cup, and need to start winning. The victory in South Africa – their first road win against a team since the Netherlands and Ireland since beating Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2018 – “means a lot,” as Hope said.

“That’s something we talk about in the meetings. We’re just trying to win more games of cricket. We didn’t have a successful 2022 and we’re doing everything we can to change that,” he said. “

It is also a successful start for the new leadership. Hope is now in charge of the ODI side, with 105 matches under his belt, and a lot more on his plate. Although he did not open the batting in the match – as he has done since 2019 – he batted, kept wicket and captained from the 10th over and called the match “a tiring game for me”.

So how will he handle the many roles he has to play in a big ODI year for the West Indies? “I’m definitely taking it full speed ahead. It’s about giving the team my all,” Hope said. “I’m getting support from all over. I’ve got support from the guys on and off the field. I’ve got to keep accepting the responsibility and when it’s my time to shine, I’ll do it.”

And he plans to implement it across all formats. As the ODI series opener was played, soon after the West Indies’ batting had beaten them in the Test series, there was some talk about whether players like Hope and former captain Nicholas Pooran were included in the red ball squad. Should go. On the evidence of the East London ODI, the West Indies could do worse, but there is some interesting perspective to Hope’s dismissal.

Like his opposite number Bauma, Hope has only two Test centuries to his name – and they came in a single match. Hope has not played Test cricket since December 2021. Asked if the longest format is one he would like to return to, Hope indicated that hope would win out.

“One thing I always preach in the camp: control what you can control. I can’t control what the selectors do, I can’t control things behind the scenes, I can only control that. Control how I prepare, the way I play and the performance I put on the field,” he said. “I’ll take it with both hands if I get a chance.”

Firdous Munda is ESPNcricinfo’s correspondent for South Africa and women’s cricket.

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