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Kraigg Brathwaite, the 18-year-old West Indies opener, has his heart set on playing plenty of Test cricket first, and maybe Twenty20 later
November 5, 2011
One expects an 18-year-old who wears a trendy white watch, is nicknamed BoBo, and shuttles between age-group and international cricket to have a flashy personality, to try and draw attention with words if not deeds. When you begin to talk to Kraigg Brathwaite, the West Indies opener, though, the measured words he uses to state his ambitions make it clear he is not that sort.
"I want to play at least a hundred Tests," Brathwaite told ESPNcricinfo. "I enjoy being at the crease because once I'm out there, that's where the runs are scored. I know that if I stay long, bad balls will come and I can capitalise on them. The best feeling is to get a hundred."
Brathwaite is part of the West Indies squad that will play three Tests in India, and could find himself opening the innings in the first Test, which starts on Sunday in Delhi. He arrives on the back of West Indies' successful tour of Bangladesh, where he made his maiden Test fifty in the Dhaka Test. It took him a shade over two hours to make exactly 50, but at no point did he look stressed.
In match game, the gameplan, to take his time and build an opening partnership with fellow newcomer Kieran Powell, was right up Brathwaite's alley. The pair added 100 before Brathwaite guided the ball into first slip's lap shortly after lunch. The innings, as well as the opening stand, demoralised Bangladesh and set up West Indies for a successful five days. Brathwaite was run out for a duck in the second innings, but his half-century had already that made everyone sit up and take notice.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul is the man Brathwaite has looked up to and wants to emulate. A highly unlikely choice for a young player, but in this case, it makes sense. On the fourth day in Chittagong, Chanderpaul came out attacking, hitting the left-arm spinners over their head and taking charge. His and Brathwaite's 62-run fourth-wicket stand took the visitors out of real trouble after they had slipped to 57 for 3. In the course of the stand, Brathwaite showed he could do what Chanderpaul has been doing for years - stay steadfast.
It is a method that was set in place several years ago when he began playing in age-group competitions. "I used to look for boundaries when I was playing U-13,] but by the next two years I started to buckle down. I took advice from my coach and my father. I started batting long and occupying the crease. Obviously I want to play T20 cricket in the future, but right now I'm concentrating on scoring runs in Test cricket.
"As I get older, the forearms will get stronger, in a couple of years maybe. But I want to see myself getting settled in Test cricket first."
Brathwaite suggested that it was his father's coaching that has led to his cautious approach. "We started playing three-day cricket in Under-15s. They used to get cross as I didn't want to get out. I started scoring hundreds from that time. I think that's when I got it, from my father. He used to say, 'Take your time man, take your time.'"
He made his Test debut at home against Pakistan earlier this year (making him the fifth-youngest to play Test cricket for West Indies) before facing Bangladesh, but India stands to be his sternest challenge yet. Luckily for Brathwaite, he has some experience of the conditions, having made two centuries in an Under-19 one-day tournament held in Vishakapatnam, in which he led the West Indies to a third-place finish. By blunting the threat of Shakib Al Hasan, Brathwaite has also shown he has the skills to handle top-class spin.
His step up to international cricket may seem a bit rushed, but he doesn't agree it has been. "I won't say the transition was too quick. I'm ready. In terms of concentration, it is the same, but obviously the bowlers here are more consistent. Once you are positive, it should be all right."
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in DhakaFeeds: Mohammad Isam
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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