"Hope is very versatile" - Coach Reifer talks of Shai Hope's value
West Indies coach Floyd Reifer says Shai Hope will be one of the keys to West Indies’ batting in the future, following the right-hander’s back-to-back hundreds in the ongoing Tri-Nations Series.
Hope stroked 170 last Sunday’s opener against Ireland in a world-record 365-run opening stand with John Campbell (179) before hitting 109 against Bangladesh in the second game on Tuesday which West Indies lost by eight wickets.
The 25-year-old has now scored four of his six One-Day Internationals in his last eight innings, and averages 50 from 51 matches.
“The last 12, 14 games he has played he has batted really well and scored about four hundreds and about four half-centuries as well,” said Reifer. “To see him batting here is a dream and he played really well – he paced the innings really well, played some beautiful cricket shots and accelerated the innings at the end. I thought he read the game very, very well and he’s definitely one for the future in terms of scoring a lot of runs for West Indies cricket.”
Reifer said what made Hope so important to the Windies lineup was his ability to dictate the pace of the innings while also batting deep. Hope batted nearly 48 overs against Ireland and 42 against Bangladesh, and also kept the score ticking over throughout his innings with the use of strike rotation. Reifer pointed out that Hope’s patience early in both innings had eventually paid dividends for the side.
“The first 10 overs of the game the pitch was very slow so it’s not a pitch where you can go out and try to get 60 runs in the first 10 overs,” Reifer explained. “We were happy to take 40 runs without a loss of wicket and what he (Hope) did was pace the innings very well … in the middle overs he rotated the strike very, very well. He ran aggressively between the wickets and at the back end of the game he really accelerated the innings and both innings were beautiful innings.”
Hope’s position in the order has been a subject of discussion. Four of his six hundreds have come at the top of the order but with specialist openers Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis named in the 15-man World Cup squad, Hope is expected to drop down to Number three as he did in the recent home series against England.
Reifer said Hope would be used in either position depending on what was required at the time.
“Hope is very versatile,” Reifer pointed out. “In some games he will open, in some games he can bat at three. That’s the versatility of our team. We have guys that can play in any position.”
Campbell, who hit his maiden hundred in only his sixth ODI, also came in for praise from Reifer.
“John batted very well. Again, he took his time early on in the innings and then he went on in the middle overs and rotated the strike very well,” Reifer said. “The communication between himself and Hope was very good along with the running between the wickets. John also played some beautiful cricket shots. He actually got over his hurdle where he usually gets to 30 and gets out. When he got there, he really dug in and focused on getting over that small hurdle. As soon as he did that he just accelerated the innings.”
West Indies face Ireland again on Saturday at Malahide in their third match while the fourth match will be against Bangladesh on Monday at the same venue. The series forms part of the team’s preparations for the ICC Cricket World Cup, which bowls off on May 30.