Wavell Hinds, born on September 7, 1976, served the West Indies in the 2000s and was a player who promised quite a lot. His talent was obvious, but his international career was limited to 45 Tests and 119 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and there was a lot more he could have done. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at the cricketing career of Hinds.
During an uncertain phase in the early 2000s, West Indies looked for players who inspired confidence and could help the big names rebuild the side. Wavell Hinds was one batsman West Indies backed and he did serve them for quite a long time. While he had the ability to hit the ball hard and dominate the bowlers, his lack of footwork was visible — something the bowlers exploited. Talent was for all to see but performances were sporadic, much to the disappointment of West Indian fans.
Born on September 7, 1976 in Jamaica, Hinds progressed through the age groups in Jamaica and made it to the Under-19 team in 1994. Consistent performances won him a spot in the West Indies Under-19 team for the tour to Pakistan in 1995. In that side he played with future internationals — Mahendra Nagamootoo, Sylvester Joseph, Gareth Breese and Nicholas de Groot (who played for Canada). Hinds made his First-Class debut in early 1996 when Lancashire toured the West Indies.
During Hinds’s early career, it took him time to establish himself in the Jamaica side, although he played many games for their Under-19 team. In 1997, he had only one First-Class game under his belt and scored 84 in one of those innings. Nevertheless, he was picked for West Indies A for the tour to South Africa in 1997-98. In one of the matches against South Africa A, he impressed by scoring a ton against an attack comprising Nantie Hayward, Clive Eskteen and Roger Telemachus. He continued being a part of the A side and had a successful tour to India the following season.
It was clear that the West Indies were moulding him for the future and Hinds had a successful domestic season in 1999-00. In 1999, he also made his One-Day International (ODI) debut against India at Toronto. He was handed opportunities in following tours and kept himself in the side with a few good knocks. In March 2000, he made his Test debut against Zimbabwe after impressing the selectors with the consistency at the domestic level. In his first tryst with the rigours of Test cricket, Hinds scored 46 not out in the first innings. The promise shown was there to be seen.
Hinds scored 116 in an ODI against Zimbabwe in April 2000. Coming in at number three, he smashed the ton to take West Indies to 280, a score that was well beyond Zimbabwe’s reach. Later in May, it got even better when he hit 165 against Pakistan in a Test match at Barbados. Not only that, but he followed it up with an innings of 52 in the second innings. That it came against an attack comprising Wasim Akram, Mushtaq Ahmed, Waqar Younis, Abdul Razzaq and Saqlain Mushtaq only shows what he was capable of.
However, Hinds wasn’t all that consistent and there were occasions when he was dropped in the following years. He had predominantly batted at number three, but was then cast into the opening role during the tough tour to Australia in 2000. On that tour, he was a stand-out performer on the fast surface at Perth scoring 50 and 41. But, it was only during the final Test at Sydney that he was given the responsibility of opening and he responded by scoring 70 and 46. We have to keep in context the fact that West Indies lost that series 5-0.
In 2002, Hinds was trying to establish himself as an opener. When India toured, he was recalled after Stuart Williams had failed. Then came a moment every cricketer dreams of. Hinds scored his first Test hundred on his home ground at Jamaica and setup a platform for a West Indies victory. His 113 took West Indies to 422 in the first essay and India couldn’t challenge that. That also won him the man-of-the-match award. It only got better from there as he was a success when West Indies toured India later that year. Not only did he score a ton in the final Test at Kolkata, but also was a huge success in the One-Day International (ODI) series that followed as West Indies won it 4-3.
Hinds was a part of the West Indies squad for the 2003 World Cup. In what was an unsuccessful campaign for the men from the Caribbean, Hinds did shine in one of the matches against Canada. John Davison had smashed West Indies all over the place and taken Canada past 200. As Brian Lara tamed the minnows during the run-chase, Hinds also got into the act by smashing a 50 off only 24 balls and ultimately finishing with 64 off 31 balls.
The trend throughout Hinds career has been that there have been a few peaks followed by troughs. But, 2003 was a different year and he promised to mature into a more consistent batsman. When Australia toured the Caribbean after the World Cup, Hinds hit back to back tons in the last two ODIs to ensure the West Indies sealed consolation victories. Later, he scored a Test hundred against the touring Sri Lankans to consolidate his place in the side.
Yet, a tough tour to South Africa followed and he was in and out of the side. Hinds did make his mark during West Indies’ shock victory at the ICC Champions Trophy 2004. In their first game against Bangladesh, he smashed 82 to set the ball rolling. Although his bat was silent, he did contribute with crucial wickets in the semi-final and the final. His medium pace may have seemed innocuous, but he did create damage during England’s innings in the final. His spell of three for 24 in 10 overs ensured England were limited to 217. By taking the wickets of Andrew Flintoff, Paul Collingwood and Geraint Jones, he effectively broke the back of the middle order. West Indies huffed and puffed, but eventually sealed a thrilling triumph.
Considering that performance, he did get a run in the side the following year. During a largely uneventful tour to Australia he smashed 107 at Brisbane against hosts, but rain put paid to West Indian hopes when they had them on the mat. In early 2005, West Indies players had a dispute with the board and quite a few of them sat out of a Test match against South Africa. In the first Test at Bourda, Georgetown, Hinds smashed his first double hundred (213) in a drawn Test match. However, he was embroiled in controversy in the last Test of the series as he was fined his whole match fee. Hinds purposely over-stepped while bowling. If that wasn’t enough, he spat at Graeme Smith. It was certainly an offensive incident.
However, the double hundred was a promising sign and in the next series against Pakistan too he showed good application. But, he only played one more Test after that, which was against Australia at Brisbane. His ODI career too fizzled out as a string of poor performances in 2006 saw his ouster. Seeing that he had little hope of a comeback, he signed a Kolpak deal with Derbyshire. He played the 2008 season and was then released. Hinds returned to the Caribbean and marked his return during the Australia series in 2010. He was also a part of the West Indies squad for the ICC World T20 2010. This time, he wasn’t able to make a mark and was dropped for good.
Hinds then played his last official game in 2011. Today, he is the president of the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) and has a huge role to play. Yet, looking at his tally of 45 Tests, 119 ODIs and five T20 Internationals, one would wonder what prevented him from becoming a certainty in the side.
He scored 2,608 Test runs at an average of 33.01 and 2,880 runs in ODIs at an average of 28.51. Looking at these numbers — they tell you one story — Hinds did not do justice to his precocious talent.