For talented all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite, the Limacol Caribbean Premier League represents much more than just a Twenty20 tournament. In fact, in many ways, the inaugural showpiece has signalled a new start for the talented Barbadian.
Only two years ago, the 25-year-old was fulfilling his boyhood dreams of playing international cricket when he made his limited overs debut for West Indies against Bangladesh in Dhaka. Brimming with promise and with the world at his fingertips, it seemed a sure bet Brathwaite would go on to carve out a successful career and put his stamp on Windies cricket but things fell apart when a heart-breaking knee injury put him out of action for several months.
Now, however, the tall seamer and powerful right-handed batsman has his sights set on impressing again and using the Limacol CPL as the springboard.
“I think I am 95 to 100 per cent fit. I had surgery in February and rehab went well and I was out for three months or so. Since then, I’ve made my return to the local circuit playing for the University of West Indies, playing three or four games in the three-day First Division and the T20 competition,” Brathwaite said.
“I was doing a lot of work in the gym while I was injured and since then, I’ve been doing a lot of cardio to get my fitness level back up to par. I think the strength is there, the confidence has also come back since my first game so I am ready and raring to go.”
In the Limacol CPL draft back in June, Brathwaite was selected alongside the likes of Rayad Emrit, Shannon Gabriel, Devendra Bishoo, Kirk Edwards, Dwayne Smith and Jason Holder, all of whom have already represented West Indies.
Tridents are led by global T20 superstar Kieron Pollard and includes overseas players Shoaib Malik, Shakib al Hasan and Umar Akmal.
Coming off injury, Brathwaite said performing again would require a huge mental effort on his part, especially since he was lining up alongside some of the world’s best players in the Limacol CPL.
“Unfortunately I had two injuries in two years coming off a good Caribbean T20 tournament but at the end of the day it is easy to look back and be depressed but it is better to look forward and press on,” he explained. “At the end of the day I still have things to go out there and do, I have goals in mind and it is important now for me to put those things behind me and press on towards my goals.”
He continued: “Coming back from injury as I did last year is not only a physical hurdle but also a mental hurdle. You actually have to believe you can go out there and hit your straps as hard as you used to before.
“The confidence is there but going into a high pressure situation with world class superstars is another hurdle you have to overcome mentally where you have to believe that you can go out there and perform with the world watching.”
Brathwaite missed out on selection as Tridents won their first four games to romp into the semi-finals of the inaugural Limacol CPL. His debut game on Sunday coincided with the Tridents’ first loss, a 27-run defeat to Guyana Amazon Warriors.
His two overs cost 18 runs and he blasted 18 from 14 balls as Tridents slipped towards defeat in pursuit of 150 for victory.
Brathwaite said he did not foresee only personal benefits for players coming out of the LimacolCPL, but huge advantages for Barbados and West Indies cricket.
“It’s always good to share dressing rooms and share knowledge with talented all-rounders. It is a case where you have seven or eight guys who enjoy each other’s company, mixing at the same time with proven international stars as well,” Brathwaite pointed out.
“You can learn together and then take back things that we learn from them to our clubs and build Barbados and West Indies cricket. It is exciting times for West Indies cricket but for Barbados cricket too where you have youngsters playing in an international competition in a franchised-based scenario, and you have professional backroom staff and you are mixing and mingling with persons from other countries. It bodes well for our cricket,” he said.