The Champions Trophy man
Ian Bradshaw is not your typical pace bowler. He doesn't jar bat handles with his pace, nor does he intimidate batsmen with gestures or words. Quiet, softly-spoken and articulate, he gave Cricinfo an insight into a career that started late, but may well blossom even further in his 30s.
How does the Ian Bradshaw story begin?
I come from Barbados, and was brought up in an area called Enterprise. Cricket was what we played there, and I was the youngest of the lot. At that young age, being able to play against older guys probably helped my game to develop over time. My family was always very big on cricket. My father and uncles all played cricket. I would go and watch them play, so cricket has been part of my life from a very early age.
Was there anyone you looked up to as a kid?
Not really. I didn't have a hero as such. Obviously, as you understood the game more, you began to appreciate the different talents of different people. As I got older, I saw the batting dominance of Viv Richards, the artistry in the bowling of Malcolm Marshall. And I always admired Imran Khan for the inspirational effect he had on the Pakistan team.
Why left-arm pace bowling though? There's not exactly a long line of such
bowlers from the West Indies.
I don't know. But from the age of about three, I was running in and bowling left-arm, with a nice high action. No one else in my family bowled left-handed, so it was something that probably came naturally.
Going back home and seeing how much winning
the tournament meant to the people of the Caribbean really reinforced the
importance of representing your country
You don't conform to the fast and fiery stereotype that most people summon
up when they think of West Indian quicks.
I would love to be in that category (smiles). Who wouldn't want to bowl at 90-plus miles an hour? But not everyone is blessed with that talent. I just worked with what I had.
What would you say are your main strengths as a bowler?
Awareness. I'm fairly aware of what the batsmen are trying to do, and I'm pretty good at assessing a surface quickly. I'm not a big swinger of the ball, and I don't bowl express pace, so it's important that I maintain a level of control and bowl the ball in certain areas. And I also have an idea of what the batsman's trying to do, so that I can best try to put him off his game and make him uncertain or frustrated.
How much have you benefited from bowling to guys like Brian Lara and
Ramnaresh Sarwan in the nets?
I've always challenged myself when it comes to bowling at the better players. It gives you a lot of confidence to challenge yourself against their technique and their skill. We're lucky in that we have four of the better batsmen in world cricket - Brian [Lara], Shiv [Chanderpaul], Chris [Gayle] and Sarwan. They have the experience of having played a number of years and are quick to tell you if you're doing something wrong. It's good to see things sometimes from a batting perspective.
What kind of an experience has it been to come here and go up against
legends like Tendulkar, Dravid and Ponting?
I think this is probably the best series that I've played in, in terms of the calibre of players. This wasn't a scheduled tournament for us. But to get an opportunity like this was wonderful, to come up against two of the best batting line-ups.
Going to the Champions Trophy again will bring back some good memories. What was going through your mind when you walked out to bat that
evening at The Oval?
I knew that the game was still on and we could win. If we batted the overs, we'd win the game, it was as simple as that. Myself and Courtney Browne just set about batting the overs. The English came at us hard once they realised they were losing their grip on the trophy. They brought back their main strike bowlers, but once we blunted them, we knew the pressure would be on the lesser bowlers. It will always be one of the greatest moments of my cricketing career.
It wasn't just that evening. Going back home and seeing how much winning the tournament meant to the people of the Caribbean really reinforced the importance of representing your country. It's made me even more determined coming into this tournament. There was so much pride at winning a major tournament again that we must retain it. Since then, we've gotten stronger as a unit, but we haven't got the results we should have.
And where do you go from here? You're established in the one-day line-up
but not so in the Tests.
That doesn't really bother me much. Personally, I'd like to play more Test matches, but I realise that West Indies cricket has to move forward and plan for the years to come. There are young talented bowlers out there whose development would be better suited playing in the Test arena, rather than within the confines of one-day cricket. If the selectors choose to go with those guys, looking at the future, I'd understand that and wish those guys the best. I'll look to do my best till the World Cup, for certain, and then I'll assess it from there. But right now, I'm thinking short-term, and not looking too far down the road.
Dileep Premachandran is features editor of Cricinfo