West Indies cricket officials have moved fast to lock down the future of Shamar Joseph after handing the Gabba Test hero a telling new contract. Joseph cemented his place in cricketing folklore after taking seven second innings wickets to help his side clinch a stunning upset win in the second Test against Australia in Brisbane.
Joseph's scarcely believable second innings figures of 7-68 helped the Windies seal their first Test win in Australia for 27 years. The extraordinary feat sent the cricket world into meltdown, with Joseph announcing himself on the world stage in an incredible moment for the 24-year-old rookie and West Indies cricket.
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Hot on the heels of his match-winning heroics, Joseph has been rewarded with a new contract from West Indies officials aimed at tying him down long-term in the red-ball game. In an announcement before their first ODI against Australia at the MCG on Friday, the West Indies revealed that Joseph had been upgraded from a franchise deal to an international retainer contract.
It's seen as a proactive move from Windies officials but given the age and inexperience of Joseph, it's also somewhat of an unprecedented move - highlighting just how important the 24-year-old is viewed to the future of the former Test cricket powerhouse. “As exhilarated as we are, it is also dutiful to elevate Shamar Joseph to a CWI international retainer contract,” said West Indies development and performance chair Enoch Lewis.
“His extraordinary talent and steadfast dedication serve as the cornerstone of our team’s recent triumph at the Gabba, and such promise merits its due recognition. Shamar has not just been rewarded with a retained contract, he has earned it.“
Joseph's Gabba masterclass sparked enormous worldwide interest in the 24-year-old star, who is expected to be inundated with big-money offers from cashed-up T20 franchises around the world. The quick had to pull out of the upcoming International T20 League (ILT20) in the UAE, in what was a sad development after a foot injury threatened to end his Gabba Test against Australia prematurely.
Shamar Joseph forced to withdraw from T20 tournament
The 24-year-old was going to fly directly to the UAE for the second edition of the ILT20 competition, rather than stay and compete against Australia in the ODI series. Joseph was slated to link up with the likes of David Warner, Sam Billings and Jason Holder in the UAE as part of the Dubai Capitals squad.
However, West Indies officials confirmed that Joseph would return to the Caribbean to nurse his right foot injury after copping a brutal yorker from Mitchell Starc. It was a sad blow for fans and Joseph, who is set to link up T20 outfit Peshawar Zalmi in the Pakistan Super League next month after being selected in the replacement draft.
The exciting Windies fast bowler could also be picked up by an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise, although fortunately neither competition will clash with the West Indies' upcoming fixtures. That will be the potential challenge for Joseph if he's selected to play in the Windies' T20 World Cup campaign in June, followed by a three-Test series in England. The quick's new contract means he will be expected to prioritise those matches over franchise cricket.
Joseph has already indicated his willingness to turn down big money offers and pledge his future to the West Indies, with the 24-year-old insisting Test cricket is his No.1 priority. “This is my dream, to play cricket for the West Indies,” he told reporters after the Gabba victory. I’m not afraid to say this. I will always be available to play for the West Indies, no matter how much money comes towards me. I will always be here to play Test cricket.”
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