Brandon King Must Get The Best Out Of Himself In 2024
The West Indies are, yet again, one the brink of rebuilding. A lot many established players have made themselves out of contention for the Australian tour, which explains why there are no fewer than 7 uncapped players for the soon-to-begin series Down Under.
As if the likes of Nicholas Pooran and Jason Holder not accepting the central contract wasn’t a blow in itself; that Holder, a former captain and a prominent talent hasn’t made himself available for the massive campaign is a bit of a shocker.
At the same time, Kyle Mayers, who burst onto the scene with a cracker of a century with that indomitable 210* against Bangladesh in 2019 having not made himself available for Windies duties is strange. Absurd even.
Furthermore, what hasn’t helped the West Indies cause nor will anytime soon is the very fact that despite being given chances to prove himself, Shimron Hetmyer disappointed yet again. He made a solitary half-century this year against India in the shortest format of the game and his batting, whether in the games before or since that contest (prior to the ODI World Cup 2023) or against England (in T20I’s) was a weakling for the national team.
Against this narrative, someone like a Brandon King becomes very vital to the West Indies’ batting. Ditto for their chances especially in the white-ball format, the right hander having played quite a few games in either forms.
Someone who’s often said that he is passionate about proving himself and for contributing to the team’s cause, it is imperative that come 2024, Brandon King plays like one.
Not that he can’t or hasn’t; 2023 became such a memorable year for the batsman that it notched up his maiden century in the limited overs 50-overs format.
In what was a memorable outing for the men from the Caribbean, Brandon King enjoyed batting in the UAE against the hosts smashing a memorable century and then scoring more runs as the series progressed.
He was also seen in some form in the 2023 ODI World Cup qualifiers, a tournament that eventually simply slipped away from his team’s grasp. But the big runs in that contest were missing.
That Brandon King is a fairly decent batsman in both one day and T20I formats of the game can be gathered from his batting average that is nearly identical in both versions of Cricket.
While he averages exactly 30 in one dayers, which truth be told does grave injustice to a batsman of his pedigree and caliber, Brandon King averages 29 in T20I’s. And yet, it is in the shortest format of the game where he’s taken merely 829 deliveries to score 1092 runs, scoring relatively freely and enthusiastically as suggested by a strike rate touching 132.
In one dayers, he is currently stacked on 1054 runs. 6 of his 37 innings, thus far, have culminated in a fifty-plus score, which given by contemporary standards isn’t something to be chuffed about.
If you score a half century in every sixth inning you play, which is when you are an opener and thus, have the luxury of having the full quota of fifty overs to play, are you doing justice to your craft?
On the positive side, Brandon King is the owner of a sorted, relatively uncomplicated technique; his game has a higher level of hygiene; the Jamaican doesn’t necessarily plod along the usually familiar Caribbean way of flirting with the ball on one occasion too many in a bid to manufacture a big albeit rash shot.
On the contrary, Brandon King’s game on the off-side warrants greater respect than given. He’s strong on anything bowled on the off stump or outside it and the characteristically gritty and rasp strokes square of the wicket shape the batsman in him.
They point to an element of confidence, which given some work, could become a prowess.
Brandon King is someone who intends to score and likes to express himself when the opportunity arises. Here is a case in point.
Nearly 500 of his 1,054 one day runs have come by way of boundaries; 488 to be precise. 144 of those have come by way of sixes.
He is a talented player of spin, but could do well to read the sharply turning or incoming delivery.
One wonders why the West Indies administrators didn’t encourage him by asking him to wear the whites against the Aussies in what could be a serious contest. Wasn’t he needed? Couldn’t a batsman with 82 international games to his name already have provided a much-needed fillip to a team currently reeling with a bizarre and sudden vacuum of big match international experience now that Holder and Mayers and even Hetmyer aren’t in?
Surely, there’s a thing that needs no clarity at all. And it’s that in this post-Darren Bravo era, for the lack of better expression, the West Indies need their men to step up.
They are soon going to need Shai Hope to be back in the Test contention. A lackadaisical Roston Chase who bats often but fails more often won’t do. It just won’t. They will have to come to a solution quickly to their jitteriness at the Test level where problems are only exacerbated by a strange non-selection of usual vice-captain Jermaine Blackwood.
The man who must be the King: Brandon King
Gladly, there’s the likes of Kraigg Brathwaite and Tagenarine Chanderpaul, the duo who most notably scored a world-record 336-run opening stand earlier this year against Zimbabwe, in Zimbabwe.
But they may require a batsman of Brandon King’s caliber at the Test level. And if not, then King will have to stop playing like an ordinary knight and rise to the occasion as only he can in the limited overs format where he’s carved a place for himself.
That he can do wonders is not subject to any doubt; but that his career could come under intense scrutiny is due to the biggest pitfall: the inconsistency.
In the most recent T20I series against England, Brandon King registered scores of 3, 0 and 8, prior to which he had made that gutsy unbeaten 82.
You cannot have three consecutive innings where you simply fail to score. It’s not done. Unacceptable.
One notes, Brandon King, who also went past 1,000 ODI runs this very year, will do well to understand that when you are part of a set-up like the West Indies, then inconsistency is an immortal evil; a predicament or habit you can’t afford.
It just won’t do.