Dwayne Bravo, a star who could have been so much more

Saturday, October 27, 2018

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Perhaps no career better illustrates the extent to which international cricket has changed over the last 15 years than does that of Mr Dwayne Bravo, who announced his retirement from international competition this week at age 35.

When Mr Bravo first made his debut in Test cricket as a 21-year-old in 2004, only the most visionary recognised the extent to which the Twenty20 format — specially designed for television audiences — would have taken hold of the glorious game in just a few years.

Back in 2004, Mr Bravo, a Trinidadian, was seen as a highly talented all-rounder, blessed with skills as batsman, seam bowler and fielder to excel in all forms of the game, not least the traditional format, Test match cricket. There were those who envisioned Mr Bravo in the same light as his great Trinidadian countryman, the late Lord Learie Constantine.

The West Indies captain at the time, Mr Brian Lara, went even further — insisting that Mr Bravo had the makings of a world-class Test match batsman, if he would only work at it.

As it has turned out, Mr Bravo became the quintessential Twenty20 cricketer, a star in all of the leading cash-rich leagues around the globe even as he turned away from the traditional game — playing his last Test in 2010. We do not think it unreasonable to say that as, much as any other, Mr Bravo became the face of twenty20 cricket.

His colourful, entertaining batting delighted packed stadiums and huge television audiences whether he was involved in the Indian Premier League (IPL) or other competitions including the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Of equal importance was his medium pace — clever variations making him one of the great 'death bowlers' of short format cricket.

The records show that Mr Bravo played just 40 Tests, scoring 2,200 runs for an average of 31.42 and took 86 wickets at just under 40 each. In shorter format cricket he played 164 One Day Internationals and 66 T20s for the West Indies.

Caribbean cricket followers will forever celebrate Mr Bravo's central role in West Indies world championship successes at the 2012 and 2016 ICC T20 World Cup.

On the down side, he won't be forgotten for leading a players' strike by West Indies players in India in 2014 at a time when he was captain of the regional limited-overs' side. The injudiciousness of that action was matched only by the refusal of the leadership of West Indies cricket to travel to India (at the request of the players as well as Indian cricket administrators) in a bid to resolve the payments' dispute.

Loss of trust between Mr Bravo along with several other leading professionals — including his brother Mr Darren Bravo — on the one hand, and Cricket West Indies on the other, has had serious negative consequences in recent years.

Perhaps Mr Bravo's international retirement, just eight months before the (50-over) ICC Cricket World Cup in England next year, was influenced by recognition that he was unlikely to make the West Indies squad for that tournament.

An instinctive entertainer, Mr Bravo penned Champion, which has rapidly evolved into a theme song not just for Caribbean cricket but for seemingly every endeavour at the level of Caribbean folk culture.

Note Mr Bravo's parting shot as he said goodbye to international competition: “I will continue my professional career as a cricketer and entertainer living as a true Champion.”

We wish him well.

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