Cricket

West Indies v England: Joshua da Silva’s rapid rise from Surrey league cricket to Tests

West Indies v England: Joshua da Silva's rapid rise from Surrey league cricket to Tests

Joshua da Silva hit three 50s in his 11 Tests at an average of 24.72
Location: Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, Antigua Appointment: March 8-12 Time: 14:00 GMT
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West Indies wicketkeeper Joshua da Silva had a different definition of a friendly than his Sunday league opponents.

In 2017, Da Silva was 18 and spending his summer with Old Wimbledonians Cricket Club in South West London.

As you would expect of a future Test cricketer, he performed well, averaging 64 in Surrey’s Division Three Championship.

But it was in the more serene setting of the Sunday friendly scene that Da Silva really wreaked havoc.

In nine games, he scored 553 carries at an average of 184.33, including three centuries and two 50s.

Betting on himself in his club’s fantasy cricket league certainly paid off for the right-handed hitter.

“I never really wanted to play those games at first,” Da Silva, now 23, told BBC Sport.

“But everyone said, ‘You can pick yourself in the fantasy league.’

“It was a 100 point deduction for picking himself, but if you score a 100 anyway, it’s worth it.

“In one game the guys said I could retire after I hit 50, but I said, ‘No, I’ll get a 100 and that’s enough. “”

The result was that many recreational cricketers gained the anecdote of their lives at the expense of a ruined Sunday afternoon.

Just three years later, Da Silva once again graced the English cricket grounds, but this time in West Indies white.

It was a quick rise, which initially didn’t seem likely when Da Silva returned to the Caribbean after his time in London without a professional contract.

“Since my time in England, I entered a club season in January where I scored a lot of points,” he said.

“And from this club season, I got my first contract with Trinidad.

“I made my first class debut in December 2018 and the following season I did a lot of racing so I got the call to go to England during the Covid pandemic.”

Da Silva’s first outing for the West Indies was unofficial as he became a substitute goalkeeper in the third Test against England in July 2020 at Old Trafford after Shane Dowrich and his initial substitute Shai Hope were both injured .

Although he didn’t make his debut on this tour, Da Silva scored a century in a warm-up match, eventually leading to his first Test cap against New Zealand in Wellington in December 2020.

“It happened much faster than expected and probably a lot of people were expecting it,” Da Silva said.

His captain at Old Wimbledonians, Johnno Gordon, agreed.

“He was incredibly talented and we knew he worked really hard, but we didn’t know if he would reach that level,” Gordon said.

“There were a lot of tears from the OW lads when he took to the pitch against England.

“He took a take and had a stupid little party. We’re just incredibly proud of him.”

Da Silva scored 57 on his debut against a full-strength New Zealand attack, featuring fast bowlers Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Kyle Jamieson and Neil Wagner.

He has since retained his place in the squad and is set to start the first Test against England in Antigua on Tuesday.

“I never really thought, ‘Wow, I’m up against Tim Southee’, I just went over there and got the opportunity to make my New Zealand debut, I was so excited” , did he declare.

In two years, Da Silva has gone from making his professional debut to scoring half a century against one of the best couture attacks in the world.

He’s hit two more 50s since – will a first ton of Test come against England?