Shai Hope is no longer featuring in Tests, but Raymon Reifer is. Kraigg Brathwaite and Jermaine Blackwood are still very much around and going quite strong but the likes of Rahkeem Cornwall have quite simply vanished.
Roston Chase is hanging in there. But Kieran Powell is nowhere to be found.
Likewise, Shane Dowrich is gone but a certain Joshua Da Silva is very much here.
This current West Indies lot in Test cricket seem a newfound unit albeit one that’s progressing if at all, at its own pace.
And it can’t really be said that it’s anywhere as hapless or unimaginative as the T20I side that got hammered and quite sadly so in the 2022 T20 world cup.
Game after game, month on month and series after series, the Kraigg Brathwaite-led side has made some progress, an evidence of which was taking the first Test in Australia on its fifth and final day during West Indies’ most recent outing Down Under.
It appears that gone are the days where abject surrender, such an intrepid Caribbean habit, would take hold of the game. And among the youngsters billed for success at the highest level, albeit one that missed out on the runs against Australia is very much the man on focus at this time in Zimbabwe.
His name is Joshua Da Silva and Cricket is his life. And what’s more?
The young lad who’s closing in on 1,000 Test match runs, has just hit a fine century in what was West Indies Cricket’s first competitive game in the famous Heath Streak and Andy Flower-land after a whole gap of five years.
The last when the West Indies visited Zimbabwe, Joshua Da Silva was still a kid, nowhere close to being in close contention of making it to top-tier international cricket. And just a few hours back, he became the cynosure of all eyes after striking a fine 100 not out and that too, on his maiden visit to the African land.
The compact right hander, who’s still relatively a new commodity in West Indian cricket, seems ready to fire for his side against Zimbabwe.
And while surely labeling who might trump the other and prevail at the end of the two-match series would be nothing other than blind speculation for the contests haven’t yet gone live, it can be said for certain that Joshua Da Silva and his friends seem to be in fine touch.
His unbeaten century came off a stay at the wicket that lasted nearly 25 overs and featured 13 fours.
Interestingly, his 2022 batting average didn’t appear a bland flog, it being north of 34 with Da Silva scoring 275 Test match runs from 7 contests. The hope now is to convert starts, the twenties and the resolute thirties into bigger, meaningful scores.
But that will require more focus and more grind. Is the youngster ready for that? Anyhow, we shall see.
Having said that, just how did the rest of the practice match carry on and what exactly transpired in West Indies’ first key outing here in Zimbabwe? To get a load on exactly that, the following is what noted Cricket writer Mr. Leighton Levy wrote for the renowned Caribbean-based Sports media platform Sportsmax.tv:
Milton Shumba was the best of the Zimbabwe XI bowlers with 3-80. Donald Tiripano took 2-34.
Chasing the mammoth total, Zimbabwe XI were in early trouble when Joseph had opener Kudzai Maunze caught behind for a duck in the second over of the innings.
He later dismissed Joylord Gumbie in similar fashion for 11 in the sixth over to have Zimbabwe XI struggling on 12-2. Kyle Mayers got among the wickets when he dismissed Tanunurwa Makoni for 13 as the side slipped to 30-3.
Jason Holder made it 31-4 when he trapped Wessly Madhevere lbw for nought and Shannon Gabriel dismissed Tony Munyonga for one to make it 36-5.