The famous 2004 test match at Lords,where Andrew Flintoff warned the West Indies batsman Tino Best to “mind the windows” when attempting to slog England spinner Ashley Giles affected Tino Best so much that he decided to name his autobiography “mind the windows.”
The sledge had the desired effect as Tino took a wild swing, missed completely, and was stumped out.
“What happened at Lord’s I felt for six or seven years. Even when I played club cricket people would say ‘mind the windows’,” he later admitted.
Cricket was not Best’s sole focus in his early years as Best had enrolled in an army sports program at the age of 16 and aspired to join the British Army if cricket hadn’t materialised. The Barbados Defence Force Sports Program boasts of five disciplines: football, cricket,
table tennis, athletics, and boxing, which enables aspiring cricketers to pursue the sport on a professional level.
In a recent interview, Best talked about his early days, the feud between players and board and much more.
“Not sure about everyone playing professionally, but they provide the basic stuff to get ahead,” Best told.
“If that doesn’t work out, then you go into the full-time army. Cricket happened and my career started taking off when I was about 19 and a half when South Africa came to the Caribbean in 2001.”
Talking about his secret to being so fast he said that being fit is the key to his bowling.At 34,he bowled at 145 kph consistently in this year’s Masters Champions League in February for the Sagittarius Strikers.
“I started running and lifting weights at 16 when I joined the program, and then it became a lifestyle. I have been consistently fit since. I now have a 16-year-old son and have a gym at home in Barbados. I train him. It’s a healthier option. If you’re fit, you’re confident and you can do anything. It instills self-belief and having a bit of belief in yourself helps in life; fitness is one of those things,” said Best.
“We as cricketers don’t understand how important strength and conditioning is,” said Best. “I think strength and conditioning should start when a kid is 15 so that by the time he’s 20, he doesn’t have injuries. I’ve had one serious injury my career where I was out for five months. I think instilling in youngsters the importance of fitness is vital. At 19, 20, if you have to start doing something you’ve never done before, it’s going to become a burden. You’re not going to like it.
“If someone between 10 and 15 came to me and asked me for advice, I would say: enjoy the game. Enjoy running in and bowling as fast as you can. Keep your head still, look at the target and bowl as fast as you can. Watch videos of other people who bowl fast as well. Fall in love with it. I wouldn’t get technical with them.
“If someone 19 onwards came, then I would get a lot more technical. Keep your head still, stay strong, get a proper trainer, lift weights. If you make $100 playing a cricket match, invest $25 of that on a good trainer who can train you to be explosive. You have to invest in yourself to be a top cricketer,” he opined.
Despite being fast and aggressive, Best failed to achieve bigger things in the cricketing world.Well, he showed flashes of brilliance but inconsistency hurt his career dearly.
“To be honest, I just wanted someone to give me a proper look-in,” rued Best. “They’d pick me now, pick me then, pick me here, pick me there…I think if I had a proper run, I would’ve had a lot more Test appearances and wickets. I played 25 Tests, 26 one-dayers, and six T20Is in 12-13 years. It’s kind of inconsistent, but not on my part as I was always dominating first-class cricket in the Caribbean. I wish I had played more Test cricket with Fidel (Edwards), as I feel like we could’ve complemented each other if we had the opportunity, but such is life.”
Best expressed his disappointment for not getting a good coach in his early years.
Best was one of the most talented youngsters in the country, bowling at a good pace but he received no coaching until he played his first Test match in 2003 at Bridgetown against Australia.
“Everyone would say, ‘Tino, you’re fast and erratic,’ but I was never coached. ‘You can bowl at 95 miles an hour, let me just throw you into international cricket’ that’s how the Caribbean is…just raw talent. I figured out that if I had my action in order, I would’ve done a lot better.”
Best also expressed his desire to mentor and nourish the young bowlers.
“One of my aspirations is to be a strength and conditioning fast bowling coach,” he cooed. “I have so much knowledge that has been passed on to me from people like Wayne Daniel, Wes Hall, Brett Lee, Shoaib Akhtar and a lot of great cricketers, who have passed on their knowledge of fast bowling. I’d like to be able to share that with kids and also because I love training.
“People often ask me, ‘Tino, you’re nearly 35 and you’re still bowling at 145 kmph, what is it for you?’ It’s just the desire. I just want to let kids understand that fast bowling is one of the greatest adrenaline rushes ever. You have to have the desire to do anything in life, but I believe that bowling fast is something special. Everyone always says, ‘fast bowlers are nutters, fast bowlers are crazy’, but you got to have a little bit of madness. On the field, I’m really wired in, off it, I’m really chilled. You cannot be a friendly fast bowler; you have to be aggressive and mean. That’s the funny part of being a cricketer for me – the Jerkyll & Hyde theory,” he chuckled.
He also shared a funny incident which involved his son.
“I was playing a Test against Zimbabwe at the Kensington Oval three years ago and I was attempting a catch which was a skier at mid-on,” Best recollected. “It was an absolutely easy catch and I spilt it. My son was at the game. When the crowd settled down, my son yelled out: ‘Dad! You just dropped a dolly.’ Everyone on the field started laughing as they recognised the voice and it was absolutely funny. I was thinking, ‘I’m going to whip his b*** when I see him’, but it was special because my son got the opportunity to see me playing Test cricket. I had the opportunity to see my uncle Carlisle Best play for West Indies and score a hundred as well, so it was really nostalgic for me. It was funny, but also a very proud moment.”
Speaking on the on-going feud between West Indies players and the Cricket Board,Best said that he was hopeful that the new President would solve the issue.
“It’s been going on for 25 years now… I think they’re going to continue to struggle for now but hopefully the new president (David Cameron) or whoever takes over irons out the issues,” said Best. “The players and board need to be on the common ground and be understanding. In any company, you’re going to have some in-fighting and disagreements, but it all comes down to the point of being mature about handling it. I seriously believe that the WICB needs some women on it. Women shed a different light on everything in life.”