Ballance backs Windies opener Brathwaite to fire

Kraigg Brathwaite

LONDON,  CMC – Yorkshire captain Gary Ballance expects West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite to excel during his brief stint with the club in the English County Championship.

The out-of-favour England batsman witnessed Brathwaite’s ability close up two years ago when the Barbadian right-hander carved out a century in the second Test of England’s tour of the Caribbean.

And after the 24-year-old’s heroics at Headingley two weeks ago when he struck 134 and 95 as West Indies stunned England by five wickets on the final day of the second Test of the just concluded three-match tour, Ballance was left even more upbeat.

“Kraigg’s a good player, a gutsy player. I think that will be good for us, especially in conditions here. He will put a massive price on his wicket. The bowler will have to get him out,” Ballance said.

“It’s just been one of those years for us where a few lads have been out of form. We haven’t quite gelled, but we showed what we can do against Middlesex.

“When we bat well as a unit, we can put scores on the board. Hopefully that will give us confidence for the rest of the season.”

He added: “I played against him (Brathwaite) in the West Indies and he got runs there as well as a few at Headingley the other week. He’s an international player who has done very well at Test match level.”

Brathwaite has emerged as one of the Windies leading batsmen in recent years, scoring six hundreds and averaging 36 in the opening slot.

He also put his quality last year in the United Arab Emirates when he fashioned a brilliant unbeaten 142 and 60 not out, to propel West Indies by five wickets in the the third and final Test at Sharjah.

Brathwaite will play the final two matches of the season, replacing Australian Shaun Marsh, and Ballance backed the player to make the most of the experience.

“It’s so hard to get that calibre of player for a long period of time these days, so it would be nice to have someone like him around for longer,” said Ballance.

“Hopefully he will go well like our other overseas players have. We’ve had some good experienced players, which has been helpful. It will be massive for him coming back to Headingley knowing he’s scored runs before. That always helps.

“From watching him bat and playing against him, I know he’s a quality player. I’m sure he will do a good job for us.”

Brathwaite’s first match will be against Warwickshire – Yorkshire’s final home fixture – which bowls off September 19.

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