Shillingford brilliant on Test return
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — It took Shane Shillingford just five balls to announce his return to international cricket.
The West Indies off-spinner sent down a superb off-break from over the wicket which Australia opener David Warner edged to the waiting hands of West Indies captain Darren Sammy at slip.
It was the perfect start to Shillingford’s opening spell on what was a day of attrition, as West Indies bowlers made the Australian batsmen work very hard to get 208 for five off 90 overs on the opening day of the second Digicel Test on Sunday at Queen’s Park Oval.
Shillingford ended the day with the excellent figures of 32-11-56-2 and was applauded by the excellent crowd of close to 10,000. His second wicket was top-scorer Shane Watson well caught at short leg by Adrian Barath for 56, as the batsman was lured forward into a defensive prod.
“It was a dream start for me,” said Shillingford. “To come into the attack and get a wicket with just the fifth ball was somewhat amazing. When the captain turned to me and handed me the ball he indicated I would have to bowl a lot of overs, so I was mentally prepared for the battle.
“Coming back into the team and getting that wicket did a lot for my confidence. When I bowled the first few balls, I saw the ball turn a bit, so I knew this was a surface that could favour my style of bowling.”
He added: “Warner’s wicket was a good one to get first up. He is an attacking player and I knew I had to look to keep it tight and force an error.
“I knew he would look to come hard at me, so I knew I had a chance once I got the ball in the right area. It is always good to get an opportunity to represent the West Indies.”
Shillingford last played for West Indies in Sri Lanka in November 2010. After undergoing assessments to his bowling action, he made a return to the team for the overseas tour of Bangladesh and India late last year, but did not play a match.
The 29-year-old said the time on the sidelines was a good learning experience. He was among the leading bowlers in the recent Regional 4 Day Tournament with 38 wickets in five matches and earned a recall to the Test squad.
“While I was away from the team, I worked really hard to maintain my fitness and my form,” he said.
“It was a challenging period, but I knew once I worked very hard, I worked overtime that I would reap the rewards and get a call-up.”
He said: “I was on the tours to India and Bangladesh and even though I didn’t play I spent a lot of time working and tried to make improvements. I watched a lot and tried to learn and see what changes I could make to get better.
“I didn’t make a lot of major changes, bit I realised one of the keys to success in international cricket is consistency. As a spin bowler you have to be patient and consistent and that will be rewarded.”