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."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
peopleJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice