Does The World Appreciate Kraigg Brathwaite Enough?
There was a lot of furore when the West Indies lost the Perth Test match in December of 2022 and also the one that followed at Adelaide Down Under. But there wasn’t an awful lot of thought spared to appreciate the fact that the ICC in the “Test Team of 2022 named the very man responsible for taking the WACA contest into the final day.
Kraigg Brathwaite conjured no fewer than 687 Test runs last year. In seven of his fourteen Test outings during 2022, he produced either a fifty or a ton, thus accumulating those vital runs at a hefty average of 62.
But how many cricket media sites or journos did you see covering the West Indies red-ball captain?
For a team that is so often wronged by Math since promising numbers don’t quite belong to the West Indies, Kraigg Brathwaite’s stellar run in 2022 echoed silent greatness.
It was a respite of sorts.
Surely, the Caribbean fan rejoiced seeing the Test match captain rule the roost.
But such is Cricket; it ebbs and flows and truth be told, it’s not always fair.
Despite a fine show with the bat all year round in Tests, Kraigg Brathwaite didn’t make enormous headlines.
And that’s just as sad as it is unfair. Here’s a fact.
Had Kraigg Brathwaite not fired a determined ton, his first in Australia, the West Indies may not have had enough in them to battle on for the final day against one of the most competitive forces in world cricket.
The right-hander’s 110 off 188 delayed the inevitable for his side, one that didn’t do the usual in falling like ninepins against an attack that besides featuring the legendary Nathan Lyon, had the belligerence of pace in Cummins, Hazlewood and, of course, Starc.
Yet, Kraigg Brathwaite soldiered on.
Whilst much of the focus and perhaps singularly so was on the Aussies, Kraigg Brathwaite fired a dogged century, the eleventh of his career and ensured that, at least, some part of the cricket coverage belonged to his Windies side.
In so doing, he produced, lest it is forgotten, 174 runs in one single Test match having hit 64 in the first inning of the Perth contest.
Surely, he’d liked to have scored many more in the next encounter at Adelaide having begun so well and so determinedly. But it’s fine; for how long can one staple run-scorer lead the way. What were the others doing?
While surely Kraigg Brathwaite is no average joe as a leader, having registered a mega Test series win against the English side in 2022 (at home in the Caribbean), he’d liked it if the likes of Jason Holder, Shamarh Brooks scored in tandem.
Though, sadly that wasn’t to be.
The West Indies were steamrolled by the Australians without much ado. But even then, the very fact that it was under Kraigg Brathwaite’s thoughtful leadership that the Windies continued the contest onto the final day at Western Australia was a sign of progress- or was it?
Not that it’s the only time that Kraigg Brathwaite has demonstrated temerity.
Over half a decade back in the day, it was Brathwaite who fired a gritty century at the Headingley and continued to focus for long hours during a 249-ball-stay at the wicket, which mustn’t be forgotten, came against Anderson, Broad, Stokes, Ali and Woakes.
While Shai Hope clung to the media’s attention and justifiably so having hit twin centuries at Leeds, it was Kraigg Brathwaite’s focused 95 that kickstarted the West Indies run-chase confidently.
Do you remember the fourth and final inning of that belter of a game on the English soil, the very country whose Tony Greig once desired to make the West Indies grovel?
Even today, having played 81 Tests for this West Indies during an eleven year period of playing extensive, challenging and rigour-riddled cricket, Kraigg Brathwaite hasn’t eschewed the principles the that define him.
Patience and determination!
In an age that cares little for perseverance and perhaps more for the number of followers on Instagram, captain Brathwaite is a departure from the standard operating West Indies white-ball prototype.
In fact, even in a few odd outings under the coloured West Indies clothing, Kraigg Brathwaite has looked so utterly out of sorts as would seem a textile designer when meeting a visionary rocket scientist.
There’s not much that the two can do with one other.
But great parallels can be drawn when an advertising copywriter meets an account planner akin to a Test match specialist meeting a scorekeeper.
Which is why the moment one witnesses Kraigg Brathwaite in Test clothing, the man, it ought to be remembered is the most successful Test scorer for the West Indies at present.
Having crossed 5,000 Test match runs, Kraigg Brathwaite is no ordinary joe!
He’s already arrived in the game and given his love for batting for long hours must consider anything under 8,000 or 8,500 Test runs as a mark of failure.
Heck, for a batsman whose off side game is the strongest, anything in the nearabouts or very much the at the 9,000 run mark would be a sterling feat.
He can do it. Interestingly, Kraigg Brathwaite also epitomises the simpleton who likes to uphold the values of the game.
That’s a rare gift at a time where so many have already lost the path without maybe walking on it. Maybe they’ve prioritised the big hits in white-ball cricket over the big hunger to succeed at the Test level.
You see that love for appetizers over soup and salad!
Just how many West Indians on the current focus of the selectors and administrators would you call die-hard Test match fans.
Surely, the likes of Joseph and Mayers, Cornwall and Gayle, even Da Silva, Joseph and Roach would like to do a lot more in Tests than they have.
But are they at the same level of consistency as current Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite?
Brathwaite with 39 scores ranging anywhere from a 50 to beyond 100 in 156 innings, which is a batting milestone every fourth Test outing, has excelled.
Would you not call it excelling?
And here’s the thing. The Bajan man from the land of Sir Gary Sobers has made it as far as he has by simply playing to the line of the ball, by playing every delivery to its merit.
He’s featured in 81 Tests, which is no dainty number. He’s done so by not doing something outlandish like gifting his wicket or as they say, offering catching practice.
The likes of Shai Hope and Roston Chase, by the way, have very nearly lost the plot. A Shane Dowrich is nowhere to be found. Jason Holder- and let’s be frank- has hugely underperformed having done absolutely nothing mighty ever since his 212 in Tests.
And while Da Silva hasn’t had mighty experience, it’s too early to pass verdict on a Kyle Mayers or Nkrumah Bonner.
And yet, Kraigg Brathwaite, the cool cat of West Indies who simply chews the gum and gets on to the act is around. Pretty much like the rock of the Caribbean cricket.
He’ll go out there, get his eye in, won’t do anything stupid like going for attacking strokes and time the ball. He’ll look for those gaps. He’ll find the occasional boundary. And as always, the priority would be to explore the gaps and look for singles.
He seemingly applied the same mantra at the Wankhede back in 2010-11 season.
He hasn’t changed that an awful lot from what one saw at Perth in Australia in 2022.
In between came the ups and downs of the West Indies.
The team saw the rise and then, the subsequent fall of a Darren Bravo. The likes of Dowrich shone brightly but were sidelined. There was Devendra Bishoo featuring back then until 2016. Now, the talented Guyanese spinner can no longer be found.
There was Suleiman Benn back then, whilst today’s side features Raymon Reifer.
Not that they were any spectacular old guards but still, the familiar faces of the yesteryears are gone and new faces have assumed their roles in contemporary West Indian Test cricket.
Against a climate of massive change it’s certainly a blessing of sorts to have Kraigg Brathwaite going strong.
And for as long as the determined trier is there, one won’t relent from rallying around the West Indies.
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