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Following Gabba’s heroics, AB de Villiers reads about Shamar Joseph on Wikipedia: had tears in my eyes, literally

Hope never dies in the West Indies. It manifested itself on Sunday as a lean fast bowler dashing in, snatching edges, tricking stumps, and embarking on a winning run that sparked an impromptu declaration that West Indies cricket is still very much alive and well.

It is well known that Caribbean people are not particularly sensitive. However, you can tell something is unique when it brings Carl Hooper and Brian Lara to tears. All thanks to 24-year-old Shamar Joseph, who on this day decided to work a miracle despite having a nearly broken toe and took seven wickets to lead the West Indies to an eight-run victory—their first against Australia since 2003 and their first in Australia since 1997.

It shouldn’t be lost on the West Indies, who were the last team to win there prior to that, in late 1988, that it happened at the Gabba of all places, where Australia had not lost in over 32 years but had lost two of the last four Test matches since 2021. But in the grand scheme of things, with the West Indies failing to qualify for consecutive World Cups and gradually sinking into cricket obscurity, might this victory serve as a springboard for something bigger and better? Maybe.

Joseph, a farm boy from Baracara who was happy bowling with a tape ball or fruit until a few years ago in a small Guyanese village that was essentially stuck in the past due to a lack of internet and color TV, is the mastermind behind this passionate dream. After an unsuccessful attempt at a city construction job, he took a job as a security guard, which left him with little time for cricket.

However, Joseph is fast, agile, and ravenous for long bowling sessions. He only asked West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite to keep him going “till the last wicket falls” on Sunday because of this.

One small issue: on Day 3 of the Pink Ball Test, Joseph was receiving treatment for what appeared to be a broken toe, possibly as a result of a yorker from Mitchell Starc.

To be honest, I wasn’t even planning on going outside this morning. Following the exciting conclusion, Joseph said to the broadcaster, “I must give a shout-out to the doctor.”

“I think he is a fantastic doctor. Even if it’s just to help the guys, he told me there’s a reason I should get down on the ground. However, when I arrived, he touched my big toe. I’m not sure what he did, but it seemed to work. I simply had that amount of time to go bowl and help my team win this game.

Australia had a strong advantage in the odds. They had never lost a pink ball test at home before. With Steve Smith (who was still unbeaten at 91 runs) at one end and eight wickets remaining, there was no reason to think Australia would botch this chase. However, in just his second Test match, Joseph bowled 11.5 overs in a row, growing faster with each over. Despite frequently losing wickets, Smith was being Smith, showing steely nerves and an incredible range of shots to keep Australia in the hunt.

Joseph spit out a length ball that bounced off Cameron Green’s elbow and jarred his stumps. The next ball was thrown at the blockhole at nearly 150 mph, Travis Head was unable to stop it, Mitchell Marsh pitched at a back of the length and edged a ball that straightened, and Alex Carey was bowled through the gate while attempting to drive Joseph.

Australia’s lower order provided Smith with some company after the specialist batters were cheaply removed, and it ultimately came down to Josh Hazlewood and Joseph facing each other. Joseph, approaching the wicket, slightly straightened the ball to block his off-stump and wheel away for a thrilling run that West Indies cricket fans will never forget.