BIRMINGHAM: Tino Best said he hoped his record-breaking 95 for the West Indies against England on the fourth day of the third Test marked his “rebirth” as an international cricketer.
Best's stunning innings at Edgbaston here on Sunday was the highest score ever by a Test match No 11 batsman, exceeding the 75 made by India's Zaheer Khan against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2004.
Best, who faced just 112 balls with a six and 14 fours, helped West Indies to 426 in their first innings after rain had washed out the first two days.
Together with wicket-keeper Denesh Ramdin, who made 107 not out, Best shared a partnership of 143 -- the third highest 10th wicket stand in Test history and a West Indies record.
As if that wasn't enough, the 30-year-old Barbados fast bowler, topping the 90mph mark, followed up with two wickets for 37 runs in 12 overs as England, an unbeatable 2-0 up in the three-match series, closed on 221 for five -- a deficit of 205.
“To be able to showcase my talent to the world really felt good,” said Best, unable to attend a news conference while he warmed down, in a statement issued by a team spokesman.
“I'm looking at this as my 'rebirth' to international cricket and I want to make sure that I allow people to remember me for the right reasons,” explained Best, who fell short of what would have been a breathtaking century when he skyed Graham Onions to England captain Andrew Strauss back-pedalling at first slip.
Ramdin was 63 not out, with no realistic hope of a hundred, when Best -- in his first Test for nearly three years -- walked out to bat.
“When I arrived at the crease, Denesh just told me to just back myself,”said Best, whose previous highest Test score was just 27.
“He told me not to get bogged down, if the ball is in my arc lick it away, and we focused on building 10-run partnerships,” added Best, whose uncle Carlisle scored a Test hundred against England in Barbados in 1990.
“It turned out to be a record partnership and I am very grateful to be part of such a special moment, and batting to allow Denesh to get his hundred.”
Best made his West Indies debut eight years ago but is now appearing in just his 15th Test.
He was called up late to the tour in place of injured fellow paceman Shannon Gabriel and then filling the spot vacated when fast bowler Kemar Roach was ruled out with a shin injury.
“This opportunity was a blessing and I just hope the people around me continue to encourage me,” said Best, who made England pay for their controversial decision to rest strike bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
“People like West Indies coach Ottis Gibson with my bowling and assistant coach Toby Radford with my batting.
“It is not a case of me not believing in myself, but it is about executing properly -- and that's what it is all about.”
Best had earlier told the BBC he'd been inspired by watching 'Fire in Babylon', a documentary film about the all-conquering West Indies teams of the 1970s and 1980s.
“I feed off Sir Vivian (Richards) and 'Fire in Babylon' is a fantastic film and gave me inspiration.
“I was thinking about Malcolm Marshall (the late Barbados and West Indies fast bowler) and then when I got to 92 I remembered 'this is my favourite cricketer's highest score, let me just get past him'.
“Richards, one of cricket's greatest batsmen and a former West Indies captain, was delighted by Best's innings.
“If this match was being played in the Caribbean everyone would have been in the trees or on top of the pavilion, they'd be going mad,” he told the BBC.
“People love to see this type of innings. All praise to him.”
In 2004, Best became something of a joke figure in England when he was stumped off Ashley Giles in a Test at Lord's just after being urged to “mind the windows” by Andrew Flintoff.
“Nnnoooooooooo Tino! He went for the windows to reach his 100!,” retired all-rounder Flintoff told his Twitter followers Sunday.
“Well played sir, great entertainment take a bow.”