Shamarh Brooks had to wait for 12 years to break into the West Indies Test squad. But after scoring a maiden Test century against Afghanistan — in his third outing — at the Ekana Stadium on Thursday, the 31-year-old batsman feels it has ‘happened at the right time’.
“I’m someone who believes in nothing before it’s time. As a young man, I’ve been through my trials and tribulations, and I think they’ve definitely helped me in reaching where I am today, so… I would never say, ‘No, I wanted it to happen in 2009,”’ Brooks said at the end of day’s play.
He had a torrid Test debut against India in August scoring 63 in four innings. But it included a 50 in the second innings of the Kingston Test. Brooks admits that the India series was a rude awakening.
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“We were demolished in the series and our batsmen didn’t put up a good show. But I guess to come up with a half-century in my second Test match, for me confidence-wise it did a lot,” he said.
At the spin-friendly Ekana Stadium, it was not easy to bat on for long, but Brooks managed to overcome the odds. “The position we were in yesterday, after losing two senior batsmen in Kraigg (Brathwaite) and Shai (Hope), John (Campbell) said we need to build a partnership and spend some time, because it’s going to be tough against these spinners. Once you spend some time and look to wear them out, you can get a decent score,” he said.
“I think it was pretty difficult to bat today. Yesterday, when we batted for 45 minutes or so, it wasn’t as difficult. But I guess as the ball got a bit softer, it started to turn a bit more… then it was about being patient and just picking off the bad balls. That proved vital today in our first innings total,” the batsman said.
Playing against top-class Afghan spin attack wasn’t easy, but Brookes remembered the tips he had received from Sir Everton Weeks, during his junior-level cricket days.
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“When I was 13 years old, the great Sir Everton Weekes told me that when you’re batting against spin, you have to get very close to it, or very far from it. On a pitch like this against their quality bowlers, I think it was just about trusting your defence. That was important. I was looking to spend as much time as possible and just pick off the bad balls.”
“Be happy with a single, look at some balls from the other end. Get accustomed to the pace and how much bounce and turn they’re getting on the pitch,” he added.
Having risen from junior cricket, Brooks represented West Indies U-19 in the 2006 World Cup, and his tactical acumen earned him a captain’s cap for the Barbados U-19 team in 2007. But inconsistency cost him dear and the talented batsman had to wait for more than a decade to break into the national side.
“When I was younger, I can definitely say I took a lot of things for granted. I started first-class cricket very young. It was just the situation, I played with guys who were much older than me and I was just a bit content with that. When I was dropped for two or three seasons from the Barbados team it was a wake-up call for me. That is when my career really turned around and I started to be consistent and realised the importance of scoring runs. Since then I’ve never looked back…”
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