Why Darren Bravo must be brought back into the West Indies team immediately

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Why Darren Bravo must be brought back into the West Indies team immediately

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Dev Tyagi

03/07/2017

The stylish left-hander has been out of the national side for almost 6 months. And given that Bravo's absence has left the West Indies a much poorer side, bringing him back is the need of the hour.

It's been almost half a year since one saw Darren Michael Bravo wield a willow for the national side, a unit to which he has not only belonged but has also fitted in so effortlessly. 6 months of no cricket. That's a long and painful period. Sadly for Bravo, not even the likes of Clive Lloyd, Sir Garfield Sobers or even one of Bravo's own, Brian Lara have spoken in his favor. 

Here's a quick throwback to what happened:-

Following an unfortunate verbal exchange with the WICB Chief Dave Cameron, who extended Bravo a Grade C contract, only later to be retorted on social media, called an 'idiot' by Bravo, the Trinidadian has been astray from the national side. Bravo last represented the West Indies in October 2016, on a forgetful tour to the UAE, where the Caribbean side lost every contest they played, apart from the Sharjah Test, wherein it was Bravo's heroics in 3 Tests saw the visitors clinch a 5 wicket victory.

A memorable outing against Pakistan, and then the confrontation

From 6 Tests, Bravo conjured up a formidable 273 runs, including an imperious hundred under lights at Dubai, thus becoming the first Test batsman to score a hundred against the Pink ball. That magnificent batting display built on the strong merits of focus and resolve nearly took the West Indies home. But in the end, it wasn't enough. Yasir Shah's bamboozling leg spin and Mohammad Amir's swing ripped through the Windies' lower order, once Bravo was gone.

The bitter truth: Bravo is critical to Windies' chances in international cricket

So much of the West Indies, ever since their big guns-  Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy and Andre Russell moved to T20s, had relied on Darren Bravo's flair and Marlon Samuels' abilities and experience. Together with Samuels, Bravo has often stitched useful partnerships for a side still struggling hard to turn a corner in the game.

But sadly, in Bravo's absence, the current West Indies squad can be likened to a wagon without a strong chassis. While raw talent remains with the presence of blokes like Jermaine Blackwood, Kraigg Brathwaite, Carlos Brathwaite, Rovamn Powell and, Roston Chase, the flair, and flamboyance that was once synonymous with the West Indies squad, has now been done away with.

And just who's to be blamed for the carnage, one asks?

It's not too hard to guess the culprit. It's the West Indies Cricket Board. In Bravo's arsenal remains not only a strong repertoire of strokes on either side of the wicket but also strong mental abilities to handle a duel and confront West Indies' opponents. He has squared up to some of the best in world cricket and remained unfazed, including Steyn, Morkel, Johnson, Hazlewood, Lyon and Yasir Shah.

 © Getty Images

For sure, Darren Bravo wasn't a miracle worker. But even his modestly experienced run in international cricket- 49 Tests, 94 ODIs- demonstrated some brilliance, reminiscent of his famous cousin, Lara- once, West Indies' savior.

Bravo had already notched up 11 hundred's, struck 33 fifties and scored around 6000 runs, ever since breaking into the game in 2009. No small achievement this, considering he's practically been a lone ranger for a side whose next most competent batsman seems Kraigg Brathwaite.

More importantly, at a time where Test Cricket finds itself cornered, submerged by the collective chorus singing praises of T20, Darren Bravo's reluctance to represent freelancing T20 leagues and preferring to appear for national duties meant he was a concerned cricketer.

It furthered his real intention, that of being a conscientious man who's keen to bat for West Indies' right to fight back for its lost place in national cricket. And, equally determined to play a meaty role in it.

A walk down memory lane:-

Mirroring his famous cousin, Brian Lara's technique, so much of Bravo's batting is about taking the attack into his own hands. Especially when the going got tough, which is often did for the West Indies.

Back in 2015, Bravo's Australian tour yielded a magnificent hundred at Hobart, a fighting one that eventually wasn't enough to save the Windies from being rubbed in by the Aussies. Previously, on his maiden tour to India, in 2011, when he was just 2 years into competitive international cricket, Bravo surprised Dhoni and Kohli's India courtesy a fluent 166. 

The timing, the ease of finding the cover boundary and, that charismatic pull to the fence, Bravo was on fire. It was clear to India, that a new kind of Lara had emerged, one who might take a bit of time to get going but when he did, he would often come into his own as he did in Mumbai. 

But the finest Darren Bravo's finest knock came against New Zealand in 2013. With the Windies'  backs pushed to the wall and being asked to follow on, Bravo retaliated against a full-fledged Kiwi bowling attack, blasting the likes of Tim Southee and Neil Wagner to register an incredible double hundred, the first of his career. Bravo's warrior-like 218 ensured the Windies fought against dying light and salvaged a morale-boosting draw at Dunedin.

 © Getty

A loss to West Indian Cricket:-

The question, from the perspective of Windies' backers and purists, isn't when will Bravo be back in the side? The point is, how quickly and in what measure can he be brought back to re-equip his struggling national side in their fight for some much- needed stability. 

The function of a cricket board isn't merely substantiating talents with necessary sporting infrastructure. Rather, it is also to extend fruitful dialogue and cohesive interaction to a player through all grievance redressal measures and councils.

And, when it comes to a side like the West Indies, currently languishing at the bottom-most place in the ICC rankings, probably agonizingly close to missing out on the ICC World Cup 2019, getting Bravo, their star batsman back into the fold, isn't just the right thing. Rather, it's a pure necessity, an emergency, if you like.

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