The West Indian Squad is already in England doing a dress rehearsal for the big game coming up on July 8.
However, some cricket pundits are still assessing the squad and making their judgment.
One of the questions still being asked is whether Kraigg Brathwaite had done enough to warrant his position to even be on a reserve list, let alone included in the team of 14.
The 27-year-old Barbadian has been struggling to find form recently with no half-century in his last 20 innings and averaging below 30 in his last 20 tests.
However, as the saying goes, form is temporary, but class is permanent. Consequently, this series will be a defining moment for the young Barbadian.
Kraigg ‘Bobo’ Brathwaite was called for Windies duty in 2009 against the Bangladeshi team when the senior players went on strike; however, he made his debut against Pakistan in the 2011 Test series.
So far, he has scored 3496 runs for West Indies in 59 Test matches with an average of 33.29. His highest score of 212 came against Bangladesh in 2014.
Only five other West Indian players have scored more runs than him as an opener. That said, his numbers have not been spectacular, but he has the making of a good batter at the top.
Bobo’s heroics in the past made it impossible for the selectors to ignore him for the trip to England.
He has the experience of playing county cricket in England, and his last performance of 134 and 95 against England in 2017 at Headingley placed him in good stead.
Additionally, with the absence of Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer, management may have thought it fit to bet on history by including a player who knows how to absorb the pressure.
The fact is Bobo doesn’t throw away his wicket and has modeled his game off the “Tiger” of Windies cricket — Shivnarine Chanderpaul.
He is defensive, patient, calm, and well organized at the crease. His away Test average is 34.79, higher compared to his home average of 31.77.
This suggests a balanced play in varying conditions with good output.
In 2015, at Hobart against Australia, he scored 94 (64%) of the team’s total of 148.
In 2016 at Sharjah, he became the only opening batsman to remain not out in both the innings of a match scoring 142* and 60*, a phenomenal feat against the quality Pakistan’s bowling attack.
The fact is every player goes through a bad patch in their career, and all it requires is one good inning for a player to get one’s groove back.
Could this England series get Bobo going again?
Given his recent lack of form, Brathwaite told reporters that he has been doing remedial work with former Windies opener Desmond Haynes.
“I had some words with Desmond Haynes back in Barbados,” he said.
“Me and him always had a good relationship because he was team manager for the Barbados team when I first started, so I had some chats with him. He was obviously an opener as well, and that’s been very beneficial to me,” he added.
He blamed his recent drop in form on lack of concentration and said, “a lot of it is keeping it simple, you don’t really want to complicate it too much. It’s just simple advice, just about what he did back in the day. Three hours left in a day is always a tough period for an opener or an hour. So, it’s just mental stuff that he helped me with… he was very strong mentally.”
The young Windies opener also said, “I’m up for the challenge… I know all the guys here can do well. I’m starting the innings, and I’m just going to do my job, it’s as simple as that. I know we have a good batting line-up, and everyone’s ready and raring to go, so no added pressure really.”
Mariah Ramharack, a Sportsmax reporter, noted in a piece, “sports overall is unforgiving because of its competitive nature. Selectors and fans demand results. Windies opener Kraigg Brathwaite has been under serious scrutiny and criticism because of his inability to contribute with the bat in the last few Tests. However, I will not judge the 27-year-old; just yet.”
She further noted, “With a Test average of 33 and a top score of 212, I have time for him.”
“I think once Kraig applies himself; he can be a destructive batting force. It’s all up to him, and the clock is ticking,” she added.
Roddy Estwick, West Indian assistant coach, feels that the young side that visited England in 2017 is now more experienced and confident to take on England and will put a great show to defend the Wisden Trophy.
And Kraigg Brathwaite will look to silence the critics through his bat and play a similar kind of role he played in the 2017 Test series against England.
Can he? Only time will tell.
Readers Bureau, Contributor
Edited by Jesus Chan
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