“There is an endearing tenderness in the love of a mother to a son that transcends all other affections of the heart”

Washington Irving

The bond between a mother and son cannot be explained in few words. For a son, his mother is the best friend in this world. There will never be anything quite as special as the love between the mother and a son. A man loves his mother the longest and when a son loses his mother at a young age, he loses half of his world. It is a huge loss for him!   

Also read: Antigua track was spiteful, but delivered enough excitement      

For the 21-year old Alzarri Joseph, the morning of February 3 did not start like others. Before the start of third day’s play at Antigua, Joseph came to know the loss of his beloved mother, Sharon. In each and every step of his life, Joseph discovered his mother as the source of encouragement. And his mother celebrated each and every success of her son with utmost joy. But on Day 3, Joseph’s mother would not be with him to take part in the celebration of West Indies’ thumping win over the best in world.

For a 21-year old it is never easy to digest such a tragic loss and concentrate on his usual duties. But Joseph did not step back from taking the field with his team. He decided to be the part of a rejuvenated West Indies side, who were looking to seal the series. Joseph had a dream debut in his home ground Antigua. He not only impressed with pace and hostility, but proved vital in nailing the big fish Joe Root with an absolute ripper in first innings.

Whether Joseph would be able to maintain the similar sort of rhythm in the second stint remained a moot question.

But he came out to bat at nummber 10 and helped West Indies to stretch the lead. He was greeted by a standing ovation and contributed 7 runs. Then he took the ball and decided to run in full throttle. He delivered full and short at pace – his deliveries clocked around 90mph. One could notice the sadness on his face, but with each delivery he hinted, he was determined enough to transform grief into strength.

***

Rory Burns and Joe Denly seemed to be stitching a solid opening stand despite some nervy moments. But Jason Holder did not want this partnership to flourish. He took the matter on his own hand. Burns attempted to cut a back-of-a-length delivery, which only flew towards slip, where John Campbell took a regulation catch. Jonny Bairstow arrived at the crease to repeat the heroics in first innings, but it took an early blow as Holder bowled him with a nagging line and incisive length.

England were in tatters and it was up to Joe Root to script a fairytale-like-turnaround for England. But Holder engaged his menace, Joseph to settle the score. It was a tough thing to ask from a boy, who had just heard the loss of his mother in morning and still decided to take the field. But the speciality about Holder is, he can easily calm his men down and fetch results from them by investing faith and instilling confidence.

Joseph was well aware that he would have the psychological support of his skipper, who would stand by him like a true friend in moments of crisis. Not only his captain, but the whole team stood by him to lend him the much needed support.

As Holder said, “It’s difficult to describe the feelings. We started the day with a daunting task, trying to push on our lead, and then we got the news about Alzarri’s mum so we all wanted to rally around one another and we wanted to do it for her”.

“Alzarri was exceptional. It took a lot of heart for him to be on the field today, I think a lot of people wouldn’t have been able to, but credit to him”.

“The way he ran in this afternoon was exceptional and with a bit more luck he could have got three or four more wickets and could have put in a man-of-the-match performance”.

“To see him in tears this morning was even harder, and we came together in the huddle and we just wanted to do it for him and we dedicate this day to him, his mum and his family”.

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“It was up to him if he played. I didn’t want to deprive him of the opportunity to take the field. If he felt he could manage and take the field for the West Indies and perform then I wasn’t going to deprive him of that”.

“For sure I knew he wanted to do something special for his mum and credit to him, he held his hand up high and did an exceptional job for us”.

***

Joseph walked towards his mark with lazy steps and started to run – a few of the deliveries were quite casual, but in course of time, Joseph would hog the limelight.

Joseph’s third delivery of England’s 22nd over jagged back into Root, who was beaten all ends up. Shane Dowrich grabbed the ball and the appeal from him and slip cordon was not loud. Neither Joseph bothered to appeal – with such a mental state it was quite expected, there will be fluctuations in concentration. But his team stood by him and reviewed the decision of on-field umpire. Credit to Holder, who noticed the inside edge while standing from slip as the review turned out to be a masterstroke.

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The umpire raised his finger and Root became Joseph’s bunny, yet again. Joseph had hooked the big fish, but there was no joyous celebration from his side. Well, he was swarmed by his teammates who did the celebration for him. Then Joseph outweighed Joe Denly who misjudged the line of an incoming delivery by shouldering the arms. Again, his teammates celebrated the wicket for him.

This West Indies team is blessed with team spirit!

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Kemar Roach and Holder’s accuracy and hostility never let England settle down. They were bundled out cheaply as West Indies registered a 10-wicket victory to seal the series. But the hero of the day, in my opinion, was Joseph; who overcame such a personal loss and responded to national duties.

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