Josh Da Silva has given Guerilla Cricket an exclusive insight into the wild partying that takes place in a bio-secure world after the West Indies won the first Test against Bangladesh in remarkable circumstances last week.
It comprised primarily a game of dominoes.
The wicket-keeper played a full part in the three-wicket victory, partnering Kyle Mayers, scorer of a match-winning unbeaten double-century on debut, in a stand of 100 for the sixth wicket that took them within three runs of the 395 target – the fifth highest winning pursuit in Test history.
“After that win, we came back into the changing room and I don’t think a beer has ever tasted that good,” said Da Silva in a series of voice messages relayed to Guerilla Cricket commentator Johnno Gordon, who watched his development as captain of Old Wimbledonians, where Da Silva spent a season in 2017. “We had a nice little team talk and then we got straight into some beers and playing some dominoes.”
Da Silva admitted he had been gutted not to see the game through with Mayers, being bowled for 20 by Taijul Islam to become the experienced slow left-armer’s 118th Test victim, but said it had been a treat to spend some time at the opposite end to the precocious left-handed Barbadian, who struck 20 fours and seven sixes in his 310-ball knock.
“To look at the ball striking throughout the day and then come to the non-striker’s end, I couldn’t have had a better view and it was amazing to see,” said the 22-year-old, who was playing only his third Test. “[But] that red-inker moved away from me and I wasn’t too happy at all.”
The dominoes and beer combo worked wonders after the high-tension win, which came after the West Indies, shorn of many of their first-choice players by Covid concerns, had to retrieve a run deficit of 171 from the first innings. Even after DaSilva was dismissed, the almost immediate removal of Kemar Roach ensured there were more jitters to be endured.
But Da Silva said: “The game gave us everything we needed. It gave us the boost to take us into the second Test and we really wanted to show the world that we are still a competitive cricket team.”
In that second Test, it was Da Silva’s time to shine as Mayers discovered that Test cricket isn’t always as generous as the first five days of his experience had suggested, scores of six and five bringing his Test average plummeting from a high of 250 to a mere 87.
The Trinidadian struck 92 in a stand of 118 with Alzarri Joseph that helped the West Indies bump their first innings up to 409 from a precarious 266 for six but he was dismissed by the pesky Islam, Bangladesh’s second highest wicket-taker in Tests, when a maiden Test hundred appeared there for the taking.
Da Silva is still relatively inexperienced at first-class level, having played only 20 matches in total, but a first Test fifty in New Zealand before Christmas and crucial interventions in Bangladesh have suggested that Shane Dowrich may find it hard to force his way back in, especially after struggling with the bat and behind the stumps during last summer’s tour to England. England fans got a brief view of Da Silva’s as a stand-in when he came on as a concussion substitute for Dowrich in the third Test at Old Trafford after the incumbent had been felled by a blow to the cheek..
Not that Da Silva’s success was guaranteed, according to Johnno, whose club in southwest London welcomed him on a Kieron Pollard sponsorship scheme almost four seasons ago.
The teenager impressed in his first innings in the Surrey Championship, falling just two runs short of a hundred on his club debut, and he went on to score 800 runs in the season. But Johnno said: “Personally I thought he had a lot of work to do in order to make it at first-class level, but his drive and determination have seen him work incredibly hard on his fitness, hone his skills and truly dedicate himself to his dream.
“Everyone at the club is extremely proud to have watched his rise.”
As someone who was commended by reporters for playing a vital role in helping to stitch together partnerships in Chattogram and Dhaka, it seems as if in Da Silva, the West Indies may have at last found someone who will stop them from collapsing like a pack of … er … dominoes.
Jingle by Richard Peel