Whatever Shai Hope does in his short stay as Yorkshire’s overseas player, the Bajan’s name will always be etched into Headingley folklore.
Hope’s three-game LV= Insurance County Championship stint includes this week’s rainy affair with Gloucestershire at the Seat Unique Stadium Bristol.
Having debuted encouragingly against Leicestershire last week with a second-innings 83, the wicketkeeper-batter is due to bid farewell to his team-mates after next week’s trip to face Sussex at Hove.
It gives him limited chance to impress, but that is exactly what he is aiming to do to add another chapter to a career story which includes being the first ever player to score two hundreds in the same first-class match at Headingley when he did it for the West Indies against England in 2017.
Look at his record, and it is actually somewhat of a shame that the 29-year-old is playing two away fixtures.
In four of five innings at Headingley, he has posted scores of 147, 118 not out, 77 (for West Indies v Afghanistan in the 2019 World Cup) and the 83 he scored against Leicester.
“It seems as though I love batting at Headingley,” he smiled as he spoke at Bristol.
“I’m really happy to have been able to come over and play some county cricket, and to come back to a place where I’ve got some fond memories makes it even better.”
Hope’s signing, which covered the early-season unavailability of captain Shan Masood, was only confirmed the day before last Thursday’s season opener against Leicestershire at Headingley. He arrived in England at approximately midday on the Wednesday.
“I got a heads up about coming on the Sunday, but I only got it confirmed a couple days later – on the same day that I flew,” he said. “It was very last-minute, but good last-minute.”
Unfortunately, Hope’s second-innings 83 wasn’t in a winning cause.
“It was pretty difficult coming straight off the plane, but nice to get my feet wet in the first game and contribute with some runs for the team,” he continued.
“The thing about the game of cricket is that anyone can win on any given day or week. It’s just about making sure the team learns from the mistakes made. There were a lot of positives we, and I, could take from that game.
“Hopefully we can crack on in this game if we get on and move into the season as well.
“It was a tough start against Leicestershire, but there are a lot of good signs.”
The 2019 Headingley Test in which Hope shone was a stunning game of cricket, which culminated in Hope seeing his side home as they chased down 322 in a little over a day to win.
They levelled the series at 1-1 having been heavily beaten in the opener.
The West Indies went on to lose the series 2-1, but the Headingley Test was one of Hope’s career highlights.
“It definitely was,” he said. “How we went down to a gruelling defeat in the first game and how they talked about us in the media, we didn’t have any other choice but to come out guns blazing.
“I had no idea about the record. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than getting us over the line.
“Anything you do like that is special, and it’s something I will live happily with. But I don’t concentrate on records and statistics as much as some people may think. As long as I’m winning, that’s all the matters.
“I’d rather have a sub-par personal record and win more matches.”
While Hope has scored 14 one-day international centuries and is a regular pick in the West Indies’ team, his two tons at Headingley are the only ones of a 38-game Test career. He hasn’t actually played Test cricket since late 2021.
“It hasn’t been going the way I’d like in the longer format, but any opportunity I get to play Test Cricket for the West Indies again, I’m keen to grasp with both hands and turn things around in my Test career,” he said.
“The aim is for me, regardless of where I’m playing or what format it is, is to score runs. I’ll try to learn from my experiences.”
You could draw comparisons to how West Indies bounced back at Headingley in 2017 to the situation Yorkshire find themselves in now after an opening round Championship reverse.
“It’s about not dwelling too much on the past and learning quickly from the experiences you’ve been through,” Hope said.
He is joined in Bristol this week by someone he knows pretty well in compatriot Ottis Gibson and someone he doesn’t in fellow overseas signing Saud Shakeel, the Pakistan left-hander who is awaiting his debut.
“I haven’t seen too much of Saud,” he said. “I know he’s had some Test experience and has done very well. From what I’ve seen of him in the nets this week, he’s a great timer of a cricket ball. He’s settled in well.
“I’ve heard a lot about Ottis but haven’t worked too much with him.
“When he was around as the West Indies coach, I was in camp doing some keeping with the guys. That was before I started playing international cricket.
“Looking at what he’s done around the world in his various roles, he’s got a good success rate.
“It’s nice that in my first taste of county cricket, there’s someone here reminding me of home. Hopefully I can help get him a win or maybe two before I leave. But we need to get out on the field first.”
Hope mentioned how it was good to “get my feet wet” in the metaphorical sense with some runs against Leicester last week.
But this week in the South West: “I might get them wet literally,” he laughed.