West Indies batsman Shai Hope says he considered qualifying to play for England while he was at school in the UK.
Hope, who is seen as one of the Windies’ most prized assets, says he weighed up the benefits of playing for England while he studied at St. Bede’s independent school in Sussex. The young batsman also noted the paths taken by Sussex cricketers Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer, who were both born in Barbados.
“It was a thought,” Hope admitted. “You’ve got to look around at your competitors and see who’s vying for the same positions as you. You look at your options. At that particular stage, it crossed my mind.
“I’m good friends with Chris and Jofra. They seized their opportunity, so I’m sure they’re happy with where they are right now. It’s their choice. They’re human beings and they have a mind for themselves. It’s up to them.”
Jordan chose to play for England and made his debut in 2013, whereas Archer was set to wait until 2022 to do the same until updated ECB rules meant that some overseas cricketers, like the Sussex paceman, will be eligible to play for England after living in the country for three years. Archer will now qualify for his adopted homeland ahead of the World Cup this summer.
However, Hope explained why his intention was always to play for the Windies, despite the temptation of qualifying for England.
“I never really wanted to do that (qualify for England),” Hope added. “I always wanted to play for West Indies. I’m a West Indian. I grew up here and I want to play for West Indies. I wouldn’t do anything different. I’m pleased with my decision.”
Hope recalled the West Indies’ famous second Test victory over England at Headingley in 2017, a game in which he scored a century in each innings – the first player to do so in a first-class game at the ground. It came off the back of scathing criticism of the side following their hammering at Edgbaston in the first Test.
“It really was a big motivator,” Hope said. “Coming off that loss the week before and knowing what people were saying about us … we used it as a big motivator to put in a big performance. We knew the series was at stake.
“We’ll use that as a motivator again. We’ll know that everyone is against us. We’re so-called underdogs. But we know that, if we play our cricket, we’re going to beat these guys.”
The first Test between the West Indies and England in Barbados starts this Wednesday at 2pm (UK time).