Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
West Indies batsman Darren Bravo has made it abundantly clear that he is determined to fulfill his childhood goal of playing 100 Tests.
Bravo was recalled for the ongoing three-Test series against England after being out of the Test side for over two years.
Now that he has featured in 51 Test matches, the 29-year-old insisted that he has his sights set on getting to the special milestone of 100 Tests.
“I thought I wanted a bit more time to play the longer format before coming back, but the selectors asked me and I was willing,” he told ESPNcricinfo as quoted by the International Cricket Council’s website. “I always wanted to play Test cricket again. My goal as a kid was to play 100 Tests, and it was my goal when I made my debut.
“It’s still my goal. I don’t think anything can replace that, actually. I’m on 51 now, so I’ve a few more to go. Hopefully I can play for another five years and achieve that. Test cricket is most definitely the best test of a player.”
In the second Test against England in Antigua, which the West Indies won by 10 wickets to claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series, Bravo made a patient, but crucial, 50 in the second innings in tough conditions.
“My goal was just to be there as long as possible for the team,” he said. “I didn’t know how long I’d batted. But I felt it physically after the day’s play. The captain asked for someone to take responsibility and bat for the team and I decided to do that. I’m one of the most experienced players. I thought if I was there so long, it would give our bowlers some time to rest and get as big a lead as possible.
“Broady (Stuart Broad) was getting frustrated. Stokesy (Ben Stokes) was getting frustrated. But it’s all part and parcel of the game. They bowled very well. They don’t bowl many bad balls. Anderson doesn’t bowl any bad balls. It was tough.
“They were too negative as far as the wicket was concerned. They played the wicket rather than the ball. I tried to stay as positive as possible. I knew it wasn’t the best wicket: some balls went up; some went down. But I didn’t allow the wicket to get the better of me.
“If I had I probably would have been out or given away my wicket much earlier. I backed my defence. I mentioned in the team room that we have to back our defence as much as possible when times get tough.”
Despite the West Indies having beaten England, Bravo believes that this is “just the beginning”.
“I would say it is just the beginning, yes,” he said. “We’ve been planning well and training hard. As we all know, it’s a young team, but most of the guys have played 20-25 Tests. The guys have some experience and we’re improving each and every day.
“Two wins don’t make a summer. We know there’s a long way to go. But we have a fantastic bowling line-up. It can trouble any batting line-up in the world. It’s just a matter of our batsmen get starts carrying on for a long period. That’s the difference between our team and the top teams at the moment.
“But it’s good to win a series when we were written off before a ball was bowled. That’s what gave us the motivation to go out there and do well. Even before the series started, the goal was to win 3-0. The coach gave us that goal and everyone bought into it. We want to achieve that goal.
“Guys will start believing in themselves more as we win games like this. I’m sure we’ll start doing special things in the near future.”
Bravo also heaped praise on captain Jason Holder, who has led by example with both the bat and ball in the ongoing series against England.
Holder struck a career-best 202 not out in the first Test in Barbados and has also taken seven wickets at an average of 17.85.
However, Holder has been suspended for the third Test in St Lucia due to his side’s slow over-rate in the second Test.
“Whether he’s captain or not, if there’s one person I’d want on my team, it is Jason,” Bravo said. “He’s fantastic. Right now, he’s the best all-rounder in the world.
“A couple of years ago I had the chance to captain West Indies in a practice game at the University of West Indies and he came just to be part of the game. I asked him to bowl and told him he was going to have to bowl until he dropped. I saw the quality. I saw how special he was.
“Now he’s my captain and it’s a great feeling. He’s doing well and I’m happy for him. Whether we win or lose, Jason is the same person. He always gives the team his full support. He balances the sides as well.
“He’s been doing well but, at the end of the day, cricket is a team sport and if the team doesn’t do well, he’s taken all the lashes. He stood up well and now he’s reaping the rewards for his hard work and everything he believed in.”
The third Test between the West Indies and England begins on February 9.