Tino Best has stamped himself “The Best” in name and now in deed. He may not be regarded by the West Indies as their best pace bowler. In fact, this dead rubber against England is his first Test in nearly three years and he is only playing because of injuries to Edwards and Roach. And coming in at number 11, he is certainly not their best batsman. But that is where we were all wrong. Tino Best shattered the Test match high mark for number elevens, scoring a stunning 95.
This match has lost two whole days to rain and it seemed to have little to offer. England would have to play well and be lucky to win and make a clean sweep of the series. The West Indies started the day at 8-280 and the thinking was that a total of 300 would be good. When they lost the ninth wicket with only a further three runs added, that looked a slim chance. Who would have thought the final score could be 426? The last wicket stand of 143 was a new Test record for the West Indies and is third on the all time list.
Best came within one good blow of being the first number 11 to score a Test century. He was the first to come even close – Zaheer Khan is next best with 75. And God bless him, Best tried to bring it up in the best way – he went for the big shot over long on but managed only to mishit to first slip. It’s a shame Best was denied a century but where did that incredible effort come from?
Best debuted in Test cricket way back in 2003 and this is just his 15th Test and his top score is a humble 27. He averages 9.8 with bat in hand. This is his 91st first class match and in all of those matches up until now, he has crept past fifty just once with a top score of 51. Best’s innings was authoritative – he was the senior member of the partnership, making well over half the runs. And they guy at the other end (Ramdin) finished with 107 not out. Best’s 95 included 62 runs in boundaries and was made from 112 balls. That is healthy scoring but those are not the stats of a crazed number 11 swinging wildly. The stats have a more measured tone, indicating some skill. I could be wrong – I didn’t see any of the innings and perhaps it was a hit or miss affair but who cares? It was a historic day.
And to add icing to the cake, Best took two wickets in England’s reply. With just one day left, the match must certainly end in a draw. I don’t know where Best got that effort from but it was a gift to a Test match which seemed to have little on offer.