December 25, 2015

The curious case of Darren Bravo

Darren Bravo's overseas Test average is the best among all West Indies batsman, but his home numbers are surprisingly poor
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Among West Indies batsmen who have played at least 20 away Tests, Darren Bravo's average is the best © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

The similarities in batting style and technique between Darren Bravo and Brian Lara were written about even before Bravo made his international debut. A year into Bravo's Test career, there was even more reason to celebrate: in 12 Tests during that period, he had scored 940 runs at an average of 47.05, which were exactly Lara's stats after he had played 12 Tests. As if to celebrate that fact, Bravo scored 166 in the first innings of his 13th Test to push his career average up to 52.50; Lara had made 167 in his 13th. Things were moving in a parallel direction for these two: one had been a jewel in West Indies' batting line-up for several years, and the other was just taking over the mantle, it seemed.

Much has changed since that story of November 2011, though. After 40 Tests, which is Bravo's current tally, his average has dropped to 41.34; after averaging more than 60 in three of his first five series, Bravo has repeated the feat only twice in his next 11. At a similar stage in his career, Lara's average had risen to 55.86, and his exploits included a record-breaking 375 against England in Antigua in his 16th Test. Lara had truly captured the cricket world's imagination with his flair and was among the top three batsmen at the time, while Bravo is currently lagging behind in the pecking order among current batsmen, well adrift of Kane Williamson, AB de Villiers, Steven Smith and Joe Root.

Darren Bravo's Test career
Period Tests Runs Average 100s
 Till Dec 2011  13  1155  52.50  3
 Jan 2012 onwards  27  1698  36.12  4
 Career  40  2853  41.34  7

Bravo's problem, though, is a peculiar one. Most batsmen tend to relish home conditions and struggle abroad. With Bravo, the reverse is true: he averages barely more than 30 at home and nearly 52 overseas. In eight home series, his average has never touched 40. The highest it has reached is 39.50, against England earlier this year. When Australia toured there in June 2015, Bravo scored only 49 runs in four innings, a tally he more than doubled in just one innings in Hobart on the current tour. In eight away series, on the other hand (excluding the ongoing Australia tour), he has averaged more than 60 five times. Six of his seven Test hundreds have come overseas, including his highest of 218 in a stirring fightback against New Zealand in Dunedin in 2013.

Bravo showed his class once again with a century in the Hobart Test © Getty Images

Among West Indies' specialist batsmen (those batting in the top six) who have played at least 20 Tests at home - there are 26 batsmen who meet this qualification - Bravo's average of 31.25 is fourth from the bottom. There is symmetry with Lara there too: his average is fourth from the top. Lara averaged 58.65 at home and scored 17 centuries in 111 innings, which works out to one every 6.5 innings; Bravo has one century at home from 37 innings. (The lowest home average belongs to another batsman in the current team - Marlon Samuels averages 25.69 when batting in the top six.)

Bravo's away average of 51.73, though, is the highest for West Indian batsmen with a 20-Test cut-off. It is one run higher than Garry Sobers' average. They are among only three West Indians who have a 50-plus away average: Viv Richards is the third with 50.50. Lara missed out on this landmark, averaging 48.26 in away Tests for West Indies. (He also played one Test for the ICC World XI in Sydney, hence his overall away average was 47.80.)

Bravo in home and away Tests
Home/ away Tests Runs Average 100s
 Home  20  1094  31.26  1
 Away  20  1759  51.73  6
Lowest home averages for WI (Batting in top 6; min 20 Tests)
Batsman Mat Inns Runs Average 100s
 Marlon Samuels  23  40  1002  25.69  2
 Devon Smith  23  40  992  26.10  1
 Sherwin Campbell  23  40  1094  29.56  2
 Darren Bravo  20  37  1094  31.25  1
 Larry Gomes  23  30  1004  34.62  3
 Wavell Hinds  23  38  1411  37.13  4

The difference between Bravo's away and home averages is 20.48. Among all batsmen who have played at least 30 innings in home conditions and overseas, only one batsman has a higher difference: Mohinder Amarnath played some famous innings for India in away Tests - most notably in the West Indies and in Pakistan - but invariably struggled at home. Only two of his 11 Test hundreds came at home, but nine out of 12 ducks were in India, including five in one series against West Indies in 1983-84. His numbers are very similar to Bravo's Test stats so far: a home average of 30.44, an away average of 51.86 and an overall average of 42.50.

Only Mohinder Amarnath has a higher difference between his away and home average than Darren Bravo © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Among West Indians, the next-highest difference belongs to Samuels, who averages 28.38 at home and 38.21 overseas, a difference of 9.83. He is followed by Larry Gomes, a contemporary of Amarnath who was outstanding in Australia and in England, but couldn't put it all together at home. Gomes scored six centuries in 26 innings in Australia and England, but only three in 30 innings in the West Indies.

Biggest diff between away and home averages for WI (Min 30 inngs each home and away)
Batsman Home Runs Home Ave Away Runs Away Ave Diff
 Darren Bravo  1094  31.26  1759  51.74  20.48
 Marlon Samuels  1192  28.38  2407  38.21  9.83
 Larry Gomes  1004  34.62  2167  42.49  7.87
 Sherwin Campbell  1094  29.57  1788  34.38  4.82
 Chris Gayle  3437  40.92  3777  43.41  2.5

In the Hobart Test, in an otherwise dismal performance from West Indies, all the pundits were raving over Bravo's classy century in a performance that was several notches above those of his fellow batsmen. With that sort of ability at his disposal, it is inexplicable that he is languishing at 34th place among 44 specialist batsmen who have played at least 25 Test innings in the last three years. To start moving up that list, he could begin by improving his home numbers.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dunstan on December 26, 2015, 12:25 GMT

    I wonder if Bravo's poor batting performance at home is due to attitude. He may be too hard on himself to perform at home. He is trying too hard to impress the home crowd.

  • Bala on December 26, 2015, 4:17 GMT

    Do the stats suggest that Bravo's home preparation, i.e. PCL, is insufficient? Would it help him to play more first class matches in the Caribbean?

  • Josiah M. Philip on December 25, 2015, 22:50 GMT

    pitches haven't been relaid and properly upkept in the off season since the 90s.

  • Ray on December 25, 2015, 21:47 GMT

    Good research Mr. Rajesh. Numbers never lie. But why the disparity in them? In the Caribbean sea of despair, is this Bravo an oasis? We can only hope. Because a good batting spectacle, is always a welcomed treat. And as was on display in Hobart, this Bravo is capable of batting with that 'ole-time West Indies flair.

  • Neil on December 25, 2015, 20:11 GMT

    If SRT could have achieved what Mohider Amarnath did, perhaps he could have been called one of the best ever. Far from it Sachin, really, because you played for records and personal glory instead of your country like Gavaskar, Kapil, Mohinder, Kumble, Sehwag, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and many other India greats. Enjoy all your millions and hope you do something good with all this cash for good of this country - if you even care that is Sachin.

  • Phillip on December 25, 2015, 17:40 GMT

    The pitches in WI are spin friendly!!!!Any idea as to why this is so?

  • Ali on December 25, 2015, 15:53 GMT

    there are cries form Jamaica, Barbados , St Lucia and other islands to drop Darren Bravo permanently .. because he is "not good enough"

  • Arul on December 25, 2015, 14:42 GMT

    Hope Bravo gets better in forthcoming years as he is the only one capable of reviving the decline of WI cricket.

  • romain on December 25, 2015, 13:00 GMT

    That will soon be corrected soon.The problem is that he tries too hard at home. As to Samuels he feels the pain of being disliked for being misunderstood much more at home.

  • suresh on December 25, 2015, 6:57 GMT

    Lara got good support from the other end from chanderpaul, sarvan and other batsman but he in the case of Bravo there is no support at all from the current batsman someone has to step up so this series will be interesting orelse it will be one sided and going to be boring for spectators

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