West Indies debutant told teammates he would get a wicket with his first ball but never dreamt it would be Steve Smith
Joseph shrugs off nerves as first-ball dreams come true
Shamar Joseph might have grown up in a remote Guyanese village that was not connected to the internet or a phone network until long after Steve Smith was crowned world's best Test batter, but he had seen enough of the former Australia skipper to identify a weakness.
And even though Joseph had not played cricket at first-class level until February last year, and had never been to a Test match before he set foot on Adelaide Oval to receive his West Indies cap from Ian Bishop this morning, he knew what he had to do if the chance to bowl at Smith arose.
Trouble is, when that moment came, the 24-year-old was so overcome by the daunting prospect of taking on the man he regards as his favourite contemporary player – and is now his most treasured wicket – he was forced to abort his initial approach due to nerves.
"I didn't miss my run-up," Joseph said this evening after he became just the second West Indian to claim a wicket with his first delivery as a Test bowler, that scalp being Smith who averaged 150.4 per innings against West Indies before today.
"It was just nervousness bowling to one of the best batsmen in the Australian team that I consider.
"I really love Steve Smith, the way he plays and goes about his cricket.
"And getting Steve Smith, I'll remember this for the rest of my life.
"I will actually take a picture and take it home and post it in my house."
That house is currently in New Amsterdam, the port town in the province of Berbice around 110km south of Guyana's capital Georgetown, where he lives with his fiancée and their two sons, aged four and two months.
But his heart remains in the village of Baracara, on the banks of the winding Canje River and only accessible through a five-hour boat ride (in optimal conditions) from New Amsterdam having left the village and his family of five sisters and three brothers to pursue a speculative dream as a fast bowler.
It was around 2am in Baracara when Joseph composed himself after his earlier false start, ran in for the moment he realised that ambition to be a Test bowler and duly etched himself in history by landing the ball precisely where he hoped to, and having his idol edge a catch to slip.
"I've watched a few Test matches of Steve Smith, and I think that area is a weakness for him," Joseph told reporters after his dismissal of Smith and then Marnus Labuschagne left Australia 2-59 at stumps on day one in reply to West Indies' 188, in which he was second-top scorer.
"I just said 'I'll hit the top of off' because he's a batsman that treads across a lot.
"He tries to take you off your line, so I stick to the basics and try to hit the top of off with some late movement away and got the edge.
"I was tense, bowling to Steve Smith isn't easy.
"I had a few conversations with the boys in the dressing room, and I told them I would get a wicket with my first ball.
"But I didn't know it was Steve Smith."
The lithe right-armer had also been inundated with messages prior to his debut that carried a single theme – that he should target Smith as his principal wicket-taking focus, because he was clearly the batter his friends and West Indies fans more broadly rated most highly.
And the combination of those pre-game premonitions that he would become just the 23rd men's Test cricketer in almost 150 years to take a wicket with his opening delivery, plus the flood of well-wishes name checking his target, means no other scalp before or since can compare.
Although, in fairness, he only had 21 first-class wickets before today and they came from the Caribbean competition where big-name batters are harder to find than a fast boat to Baracara.
"I don't think I have any best wicket other than Steve Smith to be fair," Joseph said when asked to identify his biggest scalp before today.
"(He) is one of my favourite players.
"Getting Steve Smith's wicket is just amazing for me."
Joseph conceded the celebratory run he undertook after fellow debutant Justin Greaves clutched the low chance off Smith's bat, diving to his left at third slip, would have been even more extensive had he not been swamped by euphoric teammates.
It crowned an extraordinary day of firsts for the former logging worker who is the only person to date to rise to represent the West Indies at cricket from the village of Baracara.
After receiving his Test cap from Windies fast bowling great Bishop, the card-carrying tailender with a first-class career aggregate of 65 runs from 10 prior first-class innings (top score 20) copped his first blow to the head from a frightening Mitchell Starc bouncer, before launching his maiden six off Josh Hazlewood.
"He's the most consistent bowler I've ever faced in my career," Joseph said of Hazlewood, while laughing off suggestions he might be in line to promotion from No.11 after he was last man out with 36 to his name from 41 balls.
"Hitting him for a six motivated me a lot … I think I can hit any bowler now."
Hazlewood revealed that, unlike Joseph's study of Smith's idiosyncratic technique, the Australia bowlers knew nothing of the West Indies newcomer's batting prowess until he got to the middle with his team on the rack at 9-133.
But if that single blow that landed the ball among Adelaide Oval members didn't wake up family and friends in Baracara gathered around one of the village's few television sets, then their man knocking over the most famous batter in the Australia team surely did.
"I don't have to ask about that," said Joseph, who only purchased his first protective arm guard last weekend whilst shopping in Adelaide for a child-sized cricket bat for his eldest son.
"I don't think anybody would be sleeping at all, they will all continue watching the game.
"The support from there is really lovely, amazing for me.
"I could actually feel it from here, they're the sort of people that really support cricket and I'm the only person to come out from there playing for the West Indies.
"I come from Baracara, and I want to do so much for Baracara.
"It might not happen when I want it to, but I know in the future I'll go up there and do a lot for them because they always support me.
"And those words of encouragement are amazing for me."
NRMA Insurance Test series v West Indies
First Test: January 17-21, Adelaide Oval (10.30am AEDT)
Second Test: January 25-29, Gabba (3pm AEDT)
Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc
West Indies Test squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Alzarri Joseph (vc), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva, Akeem Jordan, Gudakesh Motie, Kemar Roach, Kevin Sinclair, Tevin Imlach, Shamar Joseph, Zachary McCaskie