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Tino one short of his best

Ezra Stuart

Tino one short of his best

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TINO?BEST?has had a love-hate relationship with Barbados and West Indies fans throughout his topsy-turvy cricket career.
But he has also won many admirers for his infectious and nationalistic spirit as he has always been ready to play for Barbados or the West Indies whenever the opportunity came his way.
When the 2014 first-class cricket season starts on Friday, the fiery fast bowler will be on the verge of a major milestone.
The bubbly Best needs a solitary scalp to join Pedro Collins as the only two bowlers to ever take 200 wickets in first-class cricket for Barbados.
Left-arm seamer Collins ended his Barbados career with 254 wickets in 64 matches at an average of 18.66 while Best has taken 199 in 58 matches at an average of 22.04 for his country. Barbados’ first match is against the Windward Islands in St Lucia.
“To be approaching 200 first-class wickets for Barbados is very special for me as only one player has taken more wickets,” Best told the SUNDAY?SUN.
“I hope I get the opportunity to start as I am going to dedicate the milestone to my family, who have always supported me, especially my grandmother Marcia Best-Taitt, who bought me my first pair of cricket boots back in 1994 and encouraged me,” he said.
“Also my mother Yvette Best, who has been at every match that I’ve played for Barbados at home as well as my guardian Denton “Pacer” Hoyte, Ralph Thorne and all the staff at the Barbados Defence Force, especially Commander David Dowridge, who helped me with my attitude and made me hard and tough and gave me the opportunity to chase my dreams and never give up,” Best said.
The past Graydon Sealy (formerly Garrison) Secondary schoolboy admits he was quite lucky to gain selection for Barbados, having not come through the Under-19 youth system.  
“I really feel blessed and I also want to thank the selectors for picking me in the first place back in 2002 on pure talent without having many wickets in the trials.
“Coming from the BDF sports programme and not playing youth cricket, it has been an incredible journey so far and I want to thank coach Hendy Springer for his help from way back then,” said Best, who in 2012 set a then world record highest Test score of 95 by a No.11 batsman against England before Australian Ashton Agar surpassed his feat last year, scoring 99.
“They were very good fast bowlers around like Hendy Bryan, Dayne Maynard, Patterson Thompson and Hattian Graham and I was chosen that year ahead of them,” recalled Best.
Best was a member of Barbados’ triumphant NAGICO?Super50 side and despite not gaining selection to play in any of the matches, he maintained an infectious spirit, insisting one should look at the bigger picture.
“Yes, I was a little disappointed, but not discouraged. We are the champions and I am happy to be a member of the squad even if I didn’t play. The team is more important than my feelings or who I am. Barbados cricket is bigger than every single person who has ever played for the country,” Best stressed.
He said Barbados’ fast bowling is in good hands with the likes of Jason Holder, Miguel Cummins and Carlos Brathwaite coming to the fore and is cognisant that everyone cannot play all the time.
“Fidel [Edwards] and myself have been going for over 11 years now and it warms my heart to see that we have such quality fast bowlers and that the tradition is carried on. Somebody will always miss out. Unfortunately, it was me this time. At the end of the day, I can only play when I am selected but I am looking forward to representing Barbados and getting the opportunity to defend the Headley and Weekes Trophy again,” he said.
“I am raring to go out there and bowl quickly. I’ve pushed playing for the West Indies in the back of my mind for the time being as I will be representing Barbados now. Whenever I am bowling well, Barbados usually do well, so I will always strive to get an early wicket with the new ball which is very vital in four-day cricket and go on to get those five-wicket hauls,” Best said.
Best, who has taken 302 wickets in 104 first-class matches overall, 57 of them in his 25 Tests for the West Indies, said he has to put in several hours in the gym weekly to maintain his fitness because bowling fast for more than a decade can take its toll on the body.
“I am the oldest active fast bowler in the West Indies, at 32 years, nine months but I still feel fit and strong. I get my inspiration from [Australian fast bowler] Brett Lee. I am always improving my weightlifting to keep strong to deal with the rigours of fast bowling. It has been 13 straight years that I have been bowling at 90 miles an hour and my pace has not really diminished, which is awesome,” he noted.
The temperamental Best, who has been involved in a couple of verbal clashes with opposing players, says he has no intention of changing his aggressive nature on the field of play.
“I play my cricket very aggressively but I am a kind, loving, approachable person. Cricket is a little boring, so I like to get myself going when I go out there and nothing should stand in my way. But if over the years, I rubbed people the wrong way, it was never my intention. I am a pocket-rocket who is just passionate about my fast bowling,” he said.
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