NZ v WI, 1st Test, Dunedin, 4th day December 6, 2013

Resilient Bravo shows overseas prowess

The comparisons with Brian Lara are inevitable but the maiden double-century against New Zealand showed that Darren Bravo is capable of more than just sporadic brilliance

The idea was to try and write a piece about Darren Bravo without referencing a certain cricketer whose initials are BCL. But then Bravo played two cover drives off Neil Wagner through a tightly packed off-side field. It was no longer possible to resist.

The stories are already familiar. Growing up in the same Trinidad village, Bravo idolised Brian Lara and his bedroom at home was plastered with cuttings. If there was a doppelgangers reward, Bravo would have it nailed. Lara had spoken to his protégé after the first day of this Test, telling him to "let the world know the true Darren Bravo."

"It's no longer a secret; growing up as a kid, Brian was the only guy I looked at when West Indies were batting," Bravo said, happy to tell the story again. "As a kid growing up, whenever Brian's photo was in the newspaper or a magazine, I would cut it out and stick it up all over my room. Everything I wanted was to be just like Brian. I look up to him a lot. He has been there for me ever since and that's something I hold very close to my heart."

The connections don't end there, either. When he went to his 150, passing Lara's only hundred in New Zealand - 147 in Wellington - Lara, who made his Test debut on this day in 1990 and was following the Dunedin Test in the UK, tweeted: "Keep it going." And Bravo did. The batsman went past his previous best of 195 and onto a maiden double-hundred, which was greeted with a leap, a punch in the air and an embrace from the hobbling Darren Sammy. It was just the third double ton by a West Indies batsman in New Zealand after Gordon Greenidge (213) and Seymore Nurse (258).

"I had a bit of nerves, while the bowler was running in and all the fans were clapping," he said. "I didn't want to do anything rash. I knew a single was right around the corner. I had batted all day, so why not wait a couple more balls. It's a great feeling. It's one of my most special moments and hopefully I can continue where I left off today."

Bravo has looked a Test batsman since making his debut against Sri Lanka in 2010 where he notched three fifties in the series. It set a tone for him, where his batting has flourished away from home. His only extended problems on foreign soil came against the moving ball on the 2012 trip to England where he did not pass 29 in five innings; the recent tour of India was not prolific, but he was often solid there before getting tied down against spin.

The difference in his returns is stark - at home he averages 29.88 and away, as he stands overnight, it is more than double at 59.64. His away average is currently the highest for all West Indies batsmen in overseas conditions who have played at least 10 Tests abroad. He's not a player for home comforts.

"Before I left India, I didn't really perform well. I was spending some time, like an hour, hour-and-a-half at the wicket, but I wasn't scoring big runs," Bravo said. "I remember telling Kieran Powell that I'm going to score a double hundred in New Zealand. I just backed myself. I knew I was going to have a special innings in New Zealand."

It was not an innings without fortune - escaping a run-out chance on 76 when Brendon McCullum threw to the wrong end, dropped on 82 by Neil Wagner in his follow-through, edging between the keeper and slip on 188 and what appeared a glove to slip on the third evening - but it was the type of display that those long-suffering West Indies fans, who are put through the trying time of watching this side, have been imploring to see. Resilience, control, longevity and a hint of flourish.

This was a formidable Test hundred. In terms of balls faced, it is already the 15th longest for West Indies and he has been at the crease over nine hours. New Zealand's attack is far from weak and, although the surface did die, there was just enough to keep batsmen honest, as the brief period either side of Narsingh Deonarine's wicket showed; a delivery scuttled past Bravo's off stump before Corey Anderson made one climb to take Deonarine's edge.

New Zealand should still wrap this match up on the final day (weather permitting, and a few afternoon showers do loom) but Bravo has tested their resolve. When Marlon Samuels and Shivnarine Chanderpaul - the previous two West Indies batsmen to score Test double hundreds - fell within the first hour the expectation was that the resistance had been snapped. There was another heartening fact about this day's play: the support came from others even as the plaudits were all going to Bravo. And something else: there have been six previous double hundreds in follow-ons, and none have been in a lost cause.

Hopefully it is the sort of innings that will inspire a young cricketer back in the Caribbean to cut out some pictures (or nowadays, perhaps, to save them on his Facebook page) with the hope of following in those footsteps one day. Sadly, though, most cricket fans in West Indies will have to do with still pictures of this innings because there is no TV coverage. It was worth so much more.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on December 7, 2013, 19:20 GMT

    Was a joy to watch...!!! once again Bravo has linked the great Brian Lara to his story after this massive accomplishment....Lara played a big role in his career and that shows Darren is willing to learn from a man who reaped unprecedented success on the cricket field. He spoke about Lara's cricket photos stamped into his room's wall and that perhaps inspired the cricketer to be like Lara.... an innings of this quality will encourage other young aspiring cricketers that once they want to achieve goals it is possible but be patient and take advices.....Darren certainly is destined for bigger things with the bat....

  • o on December 6, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    One of the reason for such poor batting averages at home is also a reflection of the poor surfaces in the Caribbean, barring Barbados we have seen some very slow two paced tracks around which leaves batsman in two minds and doesn't give consistency or confidence in comparison to say India/Australia where you know almost every track is going to be beautiful to bat on. This again reflects why spinners have become the best bowlers in the Caribbean as the tracks are neither great for batting or pace and really should be one of the main focusses of WICB to improve.

  • naresh on December 6, 2013, 18:24 GMT

    cant believe this happened to NZ again - they bowled 3 days straight at India after asking them to follow-on on their last tour to NZ - they learnt nothing about imposing follow-ons from that (or from Kolkata 2001 for that matter) - modern bowlers (who do not have the luxury of a rest day like in the 70s) just should NOT be exposed to the mostrosity that is a follow on. To hell with comments like "defensive mindset" that emanate from arm-chairs the world over.

    This innings from Bravo is good in that he concentrated long enough - but the bowlers were tired and just not as good.

  • yadav on December 6, 2013, 16:03 GMT

    I have been an ardent fan of West Indies since the days of Richie richardson, Lara, Hooper, Walsh, Ambrose, Bishop, Chanderpaul, Jimmy adams and Harper. The flair and charm was unmatched by other teams those days. I still like West Indies but i get disappointed often because of their performance which, most of the time, puts their fans and themselves down. Now, it seems that Bravo is really finding his feet in test cricket, which was expected of him pretty early, WI might have found a fulcrum around which to build a teem for the future. How could selectors choose Best and Gabriel when Rampaul and Holder are fit? I think selectors should persist with 1) Kieran Powell, 2) Kirk Edwards, 3) Darren Bravo, 4) Marlon Samuels, 5) Chanderpaul, 6) Deonarine, 7) Johnson Charles, 8) Jason Holder, 9) Shane Shillingford, 10) Ravi Rampaul, 11) Kemar Roach where Bravo should be made captain.. Narine, Brathwaite and Barath with some talented young players should be in the reserves..

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 15:19 GMT

    finally we got someone to replace our king BRIAN CHARLES LARA..DARREN BRAVO made us in the caribbean very happy with that inns. he continue to entertain us and make us proud.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 13:13 GMT

    great knock by one of talented player from west indies just keep going like this

  • Gervais on December 6, 2013, 13:09 GMT

    There may not be any TV coverage, but some of us are getting the game streaming on the internet. Thankfully, I've been able to see all of this very special innings. Although it is very heartening to see the fight from the WI in this second innings, these performances are too few and far between. Too often we seem to have to rely on Shiv to pull us out. But he can't do it alone all the time. He doesn't have long again and we'll have to learn to do it without him on a consistent basis, if we are to be successful in the long term. In the meantime, I hope the guys can continue as they did on the 4th day and put the game out of NZ's reach.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 12:08 GMT

    congratulations darren bravo on a very good double century ,it just goes to show you that test matches are not won till the finish its a pity the other batsman didnt show the same resolve, why ramdin cant get bigger runs i dont know he has a good techniqe but dosnt apply himself ,and sameuls is always on the back foot ,he with powell have the same problem batting is a side on game and you either go forward or back they are the basic principles. besides our batting woes our fast bowling is getting worse i was very dissapointed with,, gabriel and best is never going to get better, westill need a very good and proven batting coach and where are all thepast great fast bowlers who maybe help them.

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2013, 12:06 GMT

    The only problem with the West Indies players is psychological. If we had a captain that can bat like Dhoni, and a wicketkeeper that can bat like Dhoni, the team will be a winning team. Sammy keeps popping up everywhere with unexpectedly good contributions and hopefully he can go on and grow in status. The batsmen were put to the test with some good bowling, but they showed grit and determination. I hope Darren Bravo cam bat through the 5th day and I hope Sammy can put his head down and give him the support. I think Sammy can make a name for himself if he shows discipline on the 5th day for the 1st hour.

  • Neil on December 6, 2013, 9:56 GMT

    Just wish the WIndies would retain their former glory. Admired their calibre even through the "blackwash" series as an England fan. Always conducted themselves impeccably, not like Australia and Pakistan.

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