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Match Analysis

Joshua Da Silva lives the emotion as maiden century sets West Indies on course for glory

Landmark moment comes in front of biggest crowd and with oldest team-mate beside him

Cameron Ponsonby
Joshua Da Silva brought up his first Test century, West Indies vs England, 3rd Test, St George's, Grenada, 3rd day, March 26, 2022

Joshua Da Silva brought up his maiden Test century in a brilliant tenth-wicket stand  •  Associated Press

"Tears just came to my eyes instantaneously," an emotional Joshua Da Silva said, just moments after bringing up his maiden Test century. "They are coming to me now, it means the most to me. Thanks to God and my parents, everybody supporting me. It means the whole world to me."
Pick any metric you want and this was a fantastic innings from Da Silva. Coming in at No.8 with the score 95 for 6, West Indies were staring at a match-losing deficit in reply to England's 204. The early stages of his innings were restrained with just 13 runs coming off his first 86 deliveries. Fifty-three came off his next 86 as he began to open up. And then as he shepherded the final stages of the innings he returned to his shell with 34 coming off his final 85 deliveries.
"I'm just batting balls," Da Silva said at the close on day two when he was on 54 off 152 balls. "When I bat balls I know runs will come in the end, I'm not too fazed about what my strike-rate looks like. Stokesy and those guys got pretty upset with me but I'm just batting and having fun.
"I love getting talk. It makes me want to go and make more runs and bat longer. It fuels me."
When Da Silva was finally given out caught behind, one ball after reaching his century, however, the talk turned to respect with each England player congratulating him on a fine innings. But in bizarre circumstances, Da Silva, who himself believed he had hit the ball, was called back to the crease on review after it turned out he made missed it. And so having left the pitch entirely, Da Silva returned. He defended his next ball straight back to Craig Overton who promptly whanged it as hard as he could back at Da Silva. England had gone from talk, to respect, to flat-out violence. And it was all Da Silva's doing.
One of the great things about individual achievements is that they are so often far from actually individual, as the joy and pride on show is shared by fans, friends and relatives alike. As Da Silva thumped the ball down the ground and to the boundary to bring up his century, his arms were just two of thousands also lifted above their heads in celebration.
Back in England, a video surfaced of Johnno Gordon, Da Silva's former captain from his time as an overseas player at Old Wimbledonians in 2017, shedding a tear as the moment arrived. The two remain close and had gone for dinner together in Barbados where Gordon had come out to support. Although, it must also be said - given that Gordon is the co-owner of the small independent cricket company Woodstock, who sponsor Da Silva - it can't be completely ruled out that the tears of joy weren't at the airtime his bats were getting on BT Sport.
Closer to home, and Da Silva spoke of the moment being that much sweeter for having had his friend and club-mate from Trinidad Jayden Seales at the other end. Da Silva was on 65 when Seales came to the crease and, given that Seales had a first-class top score of just 7 at that point, there was little expectation that he would be adding too many more. Except from Jayden himself, of course.
"Seales told me he has my back," Da Silva said. "And I backed him 100%. He told me he is going to get me there and he did, so I can't thank him enough for the role he played."
Da Silva is a Covid cricketer. His maiden tour was to England in 2020, the first to be played in a bubble, and so he has known no different to the restrictions in place and the lifeless and empty stadiums that have accompanied his 14-Test career so far. Support from his team-mates and from afar is all he's known. But today he saved the best moment of his cricketing career for the first, and biggest, crowd that he will have played in front of as a West Indian.
"Words can't describe it. It's been phenomenal, especially to have so many fans here and we have a lot of them in Grenada thankfully. To see them stand up and clap, especially for Mayers who's been getting wickets for fun, it's exceptional to see and be a part of.
"Kyle was telling me this morning that I was going to get a hundred and how it would feel if I got one and just, words can't describe. An exceptional feeling."

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby