The West Indies team has captured the imagination of the fans here in England for the current 2019 ICC World Cup with their brutal bowling displays and some on-field antics that are catching on rather quickly.
One of them is the soldier’s salute by fast bowler Sheldon Cottrell which has gone viral on social media. Cottrell, who was a soldier in his native Jamaica before he broke into the regional team, has used the trademark salute throughout his career but many fans are seeing it for the first time as he is at his first World Cup.
Young fans at the cricket venues are now being seen doing it all the time since images of him doing it during the West Indies’ first match against Pakistan surfaced on television and on social media. Even at the practice fields just outside stadiums, the young ones who flock there while their parents are focussing on the live cricket action are seen saluting when they grab a wicket.
Cottrell explained the reason behind starting this salute to Guardian Media on Wednesday.
"It’s a military-style salute. I’m a soldier by profession. Me saluting is just to show my respect to the Jamaica Defence Force,” Cottrell said.
"They are at work and I just show them respect for the hard work they are doing back home. I do it every time I get a wicket. I practised it for six months when I was training in the army.”
Cottrell, who has bowled very well in this tournament to date, has had many chances to do the salute. Against Pakistan in the opening seven-wicket win, he snared one for 18 off four overs before grabbing two for 56 off nine overs in the 15-run loss against the Australians. Also against Australia, he saluted after grabbing an amazing one-handed catch at the edge of the boundary to send back a well set Steven Smith. In the third game against South Africa that was washed out, he took two wickets for 18 off four overs.
Cottrell added: "I am a soldier and I respect the work that all soldiers do around the world, so when I salute I pay respect to every soldier who has served."
Over time, Cottrell has added an arched back to the entire performance which is not normal in the army but he likes it.
"I did it once by mistake and I saw that it worked. It was pure emotion running through me at the time and I said that I like this, so I have continued."