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Simmons heaps praise on 'unique' Brathwaite

"I want to be unbeaten in all five Tests in this year," says West Indies head coach after beating Bangladesh in Antigua

Mohammad Isam
Mohammad Isam
Kraigg Brathwaite cuts one through the off side, West Indies vs Bangladesh, 1st Test, 1st day, North Sound, Antigua, June 16, 2022

Kraigg Brathwaite made a match-winning 94 against Bangladesh in Antigua  •  Randy Brooks/AFP via Getty Images

While Bangladesh are down on confidence, West Indies are bursting with it and coach Phil Simmons now wants his team to continue this progress for the rest of the World Test Championship cycle.
The captain Kraigg Brathwaite has been a significant factor in West Indies' rise in the last 18 months. He made the highest score (94) across all four innings in the Antigua Test against Bangladesh and, according to his coach, is constantly getting better as both a player and a leader.
"Everyone has seen [Brathwaite's] determination," Simmons said. "His unique style. He doesn't have a problem doing his job for five days. It is unique because a lot of batsmen nowadays like to play shots and be done with it.
"From his point of view, he wants to be there for the team. That rolls into the captaincy. He is not loud but the players know what he wants. He makes them understand in his unique way. He seems to be growing in the role."
With their victory on Sunday, West Indies have now won three of their eight WTC matches and are unbeaten in their last four Tests.
"We started 2021 in the same way," Simmons said. "We won two in Bangladesh, and drew two against Sri Lanka. It is about how we go forward from here. I want to be unbeaten in all five Tests in this year. That would be good for me. Guys are getting confident in what they are doing. It makes your job and role easier the more confidence you have. It has happened especially after winning the series against England not too long ago. The confidence showed."
Kemar Roach too contributed heavily in the Antigua win, after nearly missing the game. The 33-year old fast bowler had to clear a last-minute fitness test to make himself available for selection, and once he did, he terrorised the Bangladesh batting line-up, finishing with match figures of 7 for 74 and equalling Michael Holding's tally of 249 Test wickets.
"[Roach] has taken things to the next level," Simmons said. "He has been excellent. He is now tied with Mikey [Holding], but in the dressing room he is always leading the youngsters. He has played 70 Tests, so he educates them. It is great to have him in the dressing room."
There were other boxes ticked off as well. John Campbell made his first Test fifty in 15 innings, an innings which helped them recover from 9 for 3 and see off a chase of 84. "I think it was really important," Simmons said. "He has had good starts in most of the games but failed to get past that 30-40 mark. The unbeaten fifty must give him some kind of confidence to get that big score, hopefully in the next Test match."
West Indies' slip catching too was impressive in this Test match. They took 13 catches behind the wicket, dropping just the one. Six of those 13 catches were taken at slip, while wicketkeeper Joshua Da Silva gobbled up the other seven. Simmons was asked to explain this and he said, "it is a matter of practice. I think the guys are enjoying the fact that the balls are coming to them. It is after a long time I am seeing the ball going to first slip in the Caribbean. It is nice to see.
"There's also the fact that Jason Holder might come back into the team later in the year so nobody wants to be put out of there. They know that he will walk right back into the slips. That could be a motivation too."

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84