DHAKA, Bangladesh – Stand-in Test captain Kraigg Brathwaite sees himself as a critical figure in the two-Test series starting next month, and has no plans of shirking the massive responsibility before him.
With 64 Tests and a decade of Test cricket under his belt, the 28-year-old is the most experienced player on tour surrounded by a plethora of inexperienced teammates, following the withdrawal of several high profile players including regular captain, Jason Holder.
And with his experience now pivotal to the touring side’s chances, Brathwaite says he is determined to be an example for the younger players on and off the field.
“I think I have a good team here. A few guys haven’t played international cricket, some haven’t played in a little while but I know this team is fully capable of doing well on the international level,” said the opener, who has already led West Indies in five Tests.
“But me as the leader I want to lead from the front. Obviously it’s my job as the opening batsman to get runs so obviously I’ll be looking to do that, build the foundation for the team as I always say.
“But the guys here, I don’t see them as second string guys. I think these guys can perform and do well at the international level so I know they’re looking forward to the opportunity.”
Brathwaite has lost all his five matches as skipper, including two against Bangladesh on the last tour here in 2018 when both Tests finished inside three days.
His last outing as captain was in the final game against England in the Caribbean in 2019 when West Indies recaptured the Wisden Trophy by winning the first two Tests of that series under Holder.
And while Brathwaite said winning was a key part of his focus, he stressed mentorship as equally important.
“Obviously leading a team you want to win … but my role here is I just want to lead from the front, both as the captain and with the bat,” the Barbadian pointed out.
“And yes, it would be great to get that win but we’ve got to go hour by hour, we can’t think too far ahead.
“We’ve obviously got to plan first and then we’ve got to go and execute. Once we take it step by step, the end result will take care of itself. Once we put in the work initially, I know that this team will do well here.”
Brathwaite is joined in the 15-man Test squad by veteran seamer Kemar Roach who has played 60 Tests and speedster Shannon Gabriel who has featured in 50 but for the exception of vice-captain, Jermaine Blackwood with 33 Tests, no other member has played 15 matches.
There are four uncapped players in Kyle Mayers, Nkrumah Bonner, Shayne Moseley and Kavem Hodge, while Joshua DaSilva, Raymon Reifer and Rahkeem Cornwall have played just five Tests among them.
However, Brathwaite said he expected the desire to succeed to compensate for the shortfall in experience.
“I know the guys that are here are very hungry so I know they would do anything to get success,” he contended.
“Obviously if you get success from a batting point of view and bowling point of view, that will help the team to win so I know these guys are very hungry and I can see the opportunity for them to grab it.
“The word for this tour is really opportunity so I know these guys will be raring to go and hungry for that success to show the world they can do the job. They’re not just filling a spot but they can perform and do well for West Indies.”
West Indies arrived here last Sunday and are set to train for the first time on Thursday (Wednesday, Eastern Caribbean time) following three days of isolation as part of the COVID-19 protocols.
Following a three-match One-Day International series from January 20-25, Brathwaite will lead West Indies in two Tests from February 3-15 in Chattogram and then in the nation’s capital, Dhaka. (CMC)