Brian Lara & Darren Bravo
Since their rapid demise in the mid-1990’s, the ‘second coming ‘ of West Indian cricket has been oft referred to, but never properly realised. Too often. exuberant promise has given way to internal bickering and disputed contracts. Although the last decade has not produced the likes of Viv Richards, Malcom Marshall or Clive Lloyd, there has been enough talent to ensure the West Indies should have performed at a higher level. The likes of Chris Gayle, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shiv Chanderpaul and Fidel Edwards, should make the nucleus of a relatively strong team. However, the afore mentioned disputes have resulted in the Windies sitting at the lower reaches of the ICC rankings, bolstered only by poorly Bangladesh.
As such, it is with great trepidation that I cast my gaze on a bright new talent that seems to offer so much hope for the battered Windies outfit. During the current series in Sri Lanka I noticed a customary swagger, shrug of the shoulders, and flashing blade that reminded my of the great Brian Lara. These characteristics were not simply a pastiche, with no talent or foundation behind them. No, these were the characteristics of one of the most exiting talents not only in West Indian cricket, but even world cricket; that of Darren Bravo. For some time now his older brother Dwayne has cemented his spot in the line-up, and continues to be a fairly impressive all-rounder. However, it is the junior Darren that holds the most promise.
In his four test innings to date he has scored under 50 only once, which was a zero not out. In the current test he came in after Gayle was dismissed first ball on a bowler friendly track. And yet Bravo remains 63*, outlasting 30 test veteran Devon Smith, and looking right at home with Chanderpaul. What Bravo has shown is the confidence of a man who believes in himself. As simple as this sounds, it is a trait that has been all too absent from his team for the last 15 years. His obvious mentor Brian Lara possessed it, as did the likes of Viv Richards before him. But other than Gayle, who as we know can be hit-and-miss, there have been very few who have shown the kind of confidence and ability that actually make bowlers think twice.
Test cricket is predominantly a mental battle, just look at the current Ashes contest compared to past series. During Australia’s ‘golden age’ the likes of Glenn McGrath often won the mental battle before a ball was bowled. For too long the confidence of West Indian players has been a significant factor in their poor form. With the likes of Darren Bravo, and exiting paceman Kemar Roach, the Windies can hopefully regain their swagger and make their way back to be a formidable force once again.
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