The West Indies have moved swiftly to lock in Shamar Joseph to more international cricket, rewarding the emerging star with a new contract following his breathtaking and captivating debut Test series.
Cricket West Indies on Friday morning confirmed Joseph, 24, had been upgraded from a franchise deal to an international retainer contract, following his 13 wickets at 17.3 from his first two Tests against Australia, including a match-winning 7-68 at the Gabba where he nudged 150km/hr.
It’s viewed as a proactive – and unprecedented, considering the timing – move by Cricket West Indies to ensure the in-demand Joseph plays as much international cricket for his nation as possible as strong interest from cashed-up T20 franchises around the world looms.
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Joseph had made it clear where his priorities lie after the second Test.
“This is my dream, to play cricket for the West Indies,” he told reporters.
“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.”
The Guyana product was initially set to travel from Australia to the UAE and link up with the Dubai Capitals after the Test series. But the toe injury he suffered during his historic Gabba display forced him to fly home to the Caribbean.
Joseph will still be able to play for Peshawar Zalmi in this month’s Pakistan Super League, as well as the Indian Premier League should he get picked up, as the West Indies aren’t scheduled to play any international matches at those times.
But the nation then has games scheduled at the T20 World Cup in June followed by a three-Test series in England the next month – matches Joseph will have to prioritise over franchise cricket with his new contract.
“As exhilarated as we are, it is also dutiful to elevate Shamar Joseph to a CWI international retainer contract,” Enoch Lewis, CWI director and chair of the cricket development and performance committee, said.
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“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 rapid rise from a relatively unknown product to a Test match-winner and in-demand speedster has captivated the cricketing world.
“Shamar’s elevation to a CWI International retainer contract reflects his potential and the bright future ahead for West Indies cricket,” Cricket West Indies director of cricket Miles Bascombe.
It was also confirmed that fellow speedster Chemar Holder had been offered a franchise contract, with Boscombe suggesting the new deals emphasises the West Indies’ determination to “double down on securing the best fast-bowling talent available”.