"Tage is obviously a guy that could spend a lot of time (in the middle). I've seen him play first-class for a little while, and he's always impressed (in whatever) time he has spent (batting). And I really look forward to seeing us do good things together"Kraigg Brathwaite on Tagenarine Chanderpaul
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West Indies last won a Test match on Australian soil in February 1997. They have beaten Australia in Australia in any format only once since, in a T20I in February 2013.
Not a happy destination for West Indies then, even if it's true that West Indies have played just 14 Tests in the country since 2000, and none since 2016. But it's still 12 losses and just two draws since the last win. It's been so long that Shivnarine Chanderpaul was three years into his Test career then, and his 26-year-old son Tagenarine is West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite's likely opening partner now.
"As a team, it's not (about) focusing on any results. Obviously, past history shows it's a long time since getting wins in Australia and stuff, but we are focusing on our own goals and, obviously, going through the preparation, which is important for any Test match," Brathwaite said in a press interaction on Tuesday in Canberra, where West Indies play two tour games - a three-dayer and a four-dayer - prior to the first Test, in Perth starting November 30.
"What is the big focus is that we have ten days of Test cricket, and we want to be playing good, solid ten days of Test cricket."
It's not always that a touring team gets to play seven days' worth of warm-up cricket ahead of a two-Test series these days, and it's an opportunity Brathwaite is grateful for and wants to make the most of.
"What is important is that we know the Australia team has obviously been selected; we know the bowlers we're going to play against, we know the batsmen," Brathwaite said. "The only thing is from now is just to create our plan, in terms of the mindset - how we want to go about playing against these guys? So we use these two games to do just that.
"For us as a team to get out in these conditions and getting match practice, which I think is always important before Test series - so, as a group, we're going to take every day as serious as possible, gearing towards the Test series."
Not to forget, this is the first time West Indians would be on view for the wider world after their first-round exit at the men's T20 World Cup. Added pressure?
"No pressure," Brathwaite said with a hint of a smile. "This is a completely different format; we've had a good year thus far [1-0 series win over England and 2-0 over Bangladesh, all at home] playing Test cricket and we focus our energies on playing good Test cricket. So, for me, no pressure. We just want to make people in the Caribbean proud. We know what we have to do, in terms of preparation, and that's what we are focusing our energies on."
And when the action moves to Test cricket, the onus will be on the fast-bowling pack to set up games for West Indies. Alzarri Joseph, Kemar Roach, Jayden Seales and Anderson Phillip are the main men there, and Brathwaite said he expected them to bowl "consistency mixed with aggression" and "staying disciplined".
The last time Brathwaite played Test cricket, against Bangladesh in Gros Islet in June this year, John Campbell was his opening partner. Campbell has since been banned for a doping violation, and the new man for the job is Chanderpaul Jr, who comes with a fair bit of pedigree but a modest average of 34.21 from 50 first-class matches, and a reputation of being a stodgy customer.
Does the responsibility for moving things forward fall on Brathwaite then? "I think the partnership will work extremely well, to be honest," he said. "Tage is obviously a guy that could spend a lot of time (in the middle). For me, my game, there's nothing that's going to change, just focusing on being in the right positions for each ball and… I look forward to the partnership. I've seen him play first-class for a little while, and he's always impressed (in whatever) time he has spent (batting). And I really look forward to seeing us do good things together."
One way or other, Brathwaite will be crucial to West Indies' fortunes, as he has been for a while now. This year, in those five Tests, he has four half-centuries, one of them a 94, and a century, in a Test in which he aggregated 216 runs, against England in Bridgetown.
"For me, it's just balance. I've been working on my balance for a long time," Brathwaite said. "I think I am at a stage now where I understand my game to (an) even better level, and getting my balance in order really helped me to find the gaps even better, getting into good positions for good balls. You're going to get a lot of good balls in Test cricket and it's just (about) how you keep them out. Getting into those good positions really helped me navigate those good balls and placing a lot of balls in the gaps."