GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – Prior to the second Test against England in Antigua last weekend, stroke-maker Darren Bravo had struck eight hundreds and 16 half-centuries in the longest format.
Arguably though, none were perhaps as important as his 17th half-century – an even 50 -in the first innings at the Vivian Richards Cricket Ground, which laid the foundation for the hosts’ 119-run lead and gave them the impetus to go and complete an emphatic 10-wicket win and historic series victory.
“I wasn’t sure exactly how important it was actually until the end of the game, to be honest,” Bravo said in a recent interview.
“I just wanted to bat for as long as possible. I know the wicket wasn’t an easy one to bat on but I tried to bat as long as possible and tried to build whatever meaningful partnership with the other batters at the other end.
“I am really happy to contribute but I think most of the credit goes to the bowlers and ultimately to the entire team.”
The elegant left-hander dispensed of his usual flair in favour of graft and cautious on a difficult surface, facing 216 balls in just shy of 5-¾ hours at the crease.
Interestingly, the innings was only his third since his return to Test cricket following a 27-month break, stemming from a fallout with Cricket West Indies.
Bravo said while the innings was physically demanding, it had been a necessary one especially after an extended period away from Tests.
“Physically I felt it. It was probably the longest I’ve batted in two years,” the 30-year-old explained.
“I think it was a very important innings for me. It’s one that I needed desperately to feel comfortable at this level once more. I didn’t really get a start or get going in the first Test so I knew all eyes were on me to make some kind of contribution.
“But I wasn’t really taking on that, I just wanted to go out there and play my game. There’s no better practice than spending actual time out in the middle.”
Bravo came to the crease on the second day of the match with the Windies on 133 for two but watched as three wickets tumbled in quick succession for 22 runs.
He then anchored key partnership until he was last out, about half-hour before lunch on the third day.
“When I went to bat, I just tried to give myself as much time as possible to get in,” Bravo said.
“I think we also lost some wickets in clusters and that sort of put us on the backfoot a little bit and I think we needed to consolidate a little bit with Shane Dowrich and then Jason Holder. It was a tremendous team effort.
“It shows we are capable of playing fantastic cricket on any given day but what I’m really happy about is the consistency after we won convincingly across in Barbados. For us to come [to Antigua] and win inside three days was a tremendous effort by everyone.”
West Indies face England in the third and final Test of the series in St Lucia starting Saturday.