England v West Indies

Best: all heart, pace and a fearsome face

Spearhead of Lara's attack is an out-and-out passion player who is truly devoted to the cause

Tino Best can recall precisely the moment he became a fast bowler. It was in April 2001 and young Tino, who as we now know is not slow in coming forward, reluctantly accepted an invitation - or grudgingly obeyed an instruction, more like - to bowl in the nets against the South African tourists in Bridgetown.

He was promising but no great shakes, on the outer fringes of the Barbados youth team, a boy who had been around dressing rooms as a nephew of the West Indian batsman Carlisle Best, a boy who had played tape-ball cricket, batting at five and bowling medium pace.

He eventually agreed to take his "stiff medium pace" down to the practice. There something got into him.

"I remember Mr Graham Ford [South Africa's coach then] asking who were the fast bowlers and I got up," said Best. "He said, 'You're a fast bowler?' and was amused that I was so small. I was much smaller than I am now. They gave me a new ball and the first ball I bowled to Boeta Dippenaar went through his grille and over the guy with a baseball glove.

"Jacques Kallis stopped taking off his pads, Daryll Cullinan called to me as soon as I finished bowling that delivery and everyone was like, 'Who's he?' I was 19 years old, they asked me if I had ever played first-class cricket and I told them I couldn't even make the Barbados youth team."

Best told this story with undiminished gusto, still in wonderment at it all. He does gusto permanently, talking, bowling, keeping the other boys going on the team bus. From that moment in the South African nets he was propelled into Barbados senior trials, and the next season into the island team.

But almost three years were to pass before he took his first Test-match wicket. They were peculiar years, when he was trying to reconcile his newly discovered pace and his excitable, effervescent personality. There were plenty of times when he revealed his potential with Barbados, but there were low periods, of which the lowest was with West Indies A on tour in England in 2002.

Best is clearly embarrassed to talk about it now, but admitted that he was "a naughty boy". There were spats with team-mates and captain, provoked by the inter-island rivalries that have frequently marked West Indies cricket, there were unsavoury incidents during matches. At Liverpool he bowled a beamer at Graham Lloyd of Lancashire after a series of edges over slips. Lloyd threw down his bat, the West Indies team surrounded the batsman, Best was swiftly removed from the attack.

"There were a lot of influences and I wasn't focused enough," he said. "It was my first time away from home and it got to my head. I wasn't concentrating enough on the cricket, I paid the consequences. Let's leave it at that."

He recovered to take 39 wickets for Barbados in the following home season and made his Test debut against Australia. He had Ricky Ponting dropped and picked up 0 for 99 in 20 overs. "It was horrible," he said. "I was devastated. People were saying that I wasn't that good, these were my own people crying me down."

Best was overlooked for two tours. Other pacemen seemed to be coming through. He was desperate to get back, worried that he might not. "I prayed every night and asked God to show me a way," he said. There then came what Best likens now to his flash of light. In a Barbados restaurant he noticed Wayne Daniel, the former West Indies fast bowler, and introduced himself. That, bear in mind, was only in December last year.

"Just remember, from 2001 when I started bowling fast until after my Test debut and meeting Mr Wayne Daniel I had no coaching about my action. It wasn't that nobody was coaching, it was just like, 'Tino, you're quick, you're the strike bowler, get wickets'."

Daniel immediately agreed to help Best. He sorted out his bustling run-up, persuaded him to keep his hands closer to his body, made him straighten the front leg and the leading arm. Daniel stayed around, Best got faster.

He was recalled to the West Indies Test team against England. His reaction to his first wicket was an imperishable moment. In a state of ecstasy he ran a country mile, his arms outstretched, and then prostrated himself on the floor.

Best went through the wicket: "In the over of the wicket I bowled four balls at Graham Thorpe. After the second ball I could feel my adrenalin pumping and all my energies were saying, 'Tino le Bertram Best, you're going to get him out in this over'.

"I gave him a short ball, he didn't handle it well. I pitched one up, he got back and across and played it with the bat and stared at me.

"I picked up the ball and said: 'Is this the great Graham Thorpe? Stop backing away, try and get in line mate.' He said, 'Bring it on, Besty'.

"I let the next ball go with everything in my body, it was a short ball at head height, he saw it but could not control it. It was going at 91.8 mph, he got a top edge and Adam Sanford's big hands clutched it. I guess all my burdens were lifted off my shoulders, all those people who said I would never play. All the bad things came away."

He has stayed in the team, fast, ferocious, animated, fragile, irrepressible. He has stared menacingly at Andrew Flintoff throughout the one-day series, bringing himself up to all his 5ft 9in, and promised there was more to come.

His passion goes before him. He cannot help it. He used to cry in front of My Little Hobo as a five-year-old at his grandmother's, he walked out of The Passion Of The Christ recently, his eyes brimming with tears, he cries when he does not take wickets. When England clinched the Test series in Barbados earlier this year he went back to his hotel room and wept.

"I am passionate about everything that I do and I think we can win this series because of passion. Our captain Brian Lara is a great leader. He treats me like a son. I love cricketers and pace bowlers who love what they do. I am emotional in cricket and in life. I love God so much."

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star