Former Bede’s student offers Windies hope following Test heroics against England

Shai Hope pictured with Bedes director of cricket Alan Wells
Shai Hope pictured with Bedes director of cricket Alan Wells

It was one of the most dramatic turnarounds in Test history, and Bede’s alumnus Shai Hope led the charge.

Following his monumental 147 in the first innings against England, Hope, aged just 22 and playing in his 12th Test, went on to back up his earlier performance with another 118 runs on a final day victory that left pundits stunned and which Mike Atherton described as, “the greatest Test upset I’ve seen.”

Hope had already booked himself a place in Test history at the weekend by scoring his maiden Test century. In doing so, he became the highest-scoring visiting West Indies batsman since Brian Lara in 1995.

The West Indies had not won a Test in England for 17 years, with Hope having previously fallen victim to James Anderson early on his debut for the Windies in 2015 – a fact that made the young batsman’s accomplishments yesterday all the sweeter.

Indeed, when Hope was given his first cap for the West Indies by legendary cricketer Clive Lloyd at Kensington Oval on that occasion, he was already a record-breaker, having made headlines by scoring a double-century for the Barbados Tridents against the Windward Islands.

While Hope had built on this reputation subsequently, and had helped to put the West Indies in a strong position going into the final day of play.

At that time, the partnership between Hope and Kraigg Brathwaite had seen 144 runs earned, following up the 246 they posted in the first innings. Even when Braithwaite was caught at slip the Windies still needed 123 runs to win off 32 overs.

When Hope eventually hit Woakes for two to clinch the victory, following a further partnership with Jermaine Blackwood, the young Bajan batted his way into both the West Indies’ and Headingley history books.

With no other cricketer having scored a century in both innings in the previous 534 first-class matches at the ground, and no team having chased down more than 322 runs since Don Bradman’s ‘Invincibles’ in 1948, the victory was truly momentous.

Hope joined Bede’s on a scholarship into the Sixth Form in 2010 and attended the school in Upper Dicker for two years, during which he captained the 1st XI cricket team to victory in the Sussex County Cup – a title Bede’s has continued to successfully defend for six of the seven previous years.

With Bede’s having produced several professional cricketers in recent years, including Sussex CCC’s Luke Wells, Delray Rawlins and Middlesex’s Ollie Rayner, the school’s reputation for cricket is well-earned.

Bede’s prides itself on maintaining strong links with professional clubs and young players benefit from a coaching team which includes Director of Cricket, Alan Wells who is supported by Neil Lenham and James Kirtley – all who played for Sussex. Bede’s has recently won the U15 National Cup, beating the over 1,000 other schools and the 1st XI also recently won the Langdale County Cup.

Wells went to Barbados six years ago to select a cricket scholar to join the School for Sixth Form and watched Shai Hope as well as a number of other young cricketers play at their schools; Hope was the outstanding talent who joined Bede’s soon after.

Bede’s director of cricket, Alan Wells said, “To have come back from defeat in the first test to make such a significant individual contribution is a sign of a great sportsman.

“Shai demonstrated great maturity and calmness under pressure as well as technical skill and in so doing has become part of West Indies cricketing history and established himself as a world-class batsman.

To have played a small part in Shai’s journey brings me, and all my colleagues, great satisfaction. I couldn’t be happier for him.”