Thursday, February 29, 2024

Brathwaite passes test


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KRAIGG BRATHWAITE passed the test yesterday, gaining a certificate in concentration and conventional cricket.
The 19-year-old University of the West Indies Cave Hill student might not have received a Grade A but surely he got high marks for his application and responsibility in which he unequivocally exhibited an understanding of the opening batsman’s role.
His typically unflustered and studious knock of 57, which spanned 273 minutes and 199 balls, most of which he didn’t have to offer a shot, was a testimony to his temperament.
It moreso helped the West Indies into a solid position of 179 for three off 73 overs on a rain-shortened opening day of the first Test of the three-match Digicel Series against Australia.
Faced with an uncharacteristically pliable Kensington Oval pitch, with some bounce but not much pace, Brathwaite and his Barbadian compatriot Kirk Edwards, who made 61, studded with ten fours and a six off balls in 147 minutes, stymied the Australian attack.
The right-handed pair added 104 for the second wicket, the first time since Sherwin Campbell (170) and Adrian Griffith (114) put on 276 for the first wicket against New Zealand in 1999 at Hamilton that Barbadians have featured in a century partnership in Test cricket.
At the premature close because of a steady shower at 4 p.m. with 17 overs left, the West Indies, who won the toss and boldly batted after omitting Ravi Rampaul and Kieran Powell from their starting 11, would be contented with their position, despite losing both Edwards and Brathwaite on either side of tea.
Their most experienced batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul was not out on eight, alongside Darren Bravo on 20, and the pair would be looking to build on the foundation, constructed by Brathwaite and Edwards when play resumes today half hour early.
Solid half-century
Brathwaite slowly and solidly carved out his fourth Test half-century with just four boundaries before he was out just after tea, edging the persistent pacer Peter Siddle to give debutant wicket-keeper Matt Wade his first Test dismissal.
Edwards had joined Brathwaite, both in their first Test on their historic home venue, when Adrian Barath was outfoxed by Ryan Harris, into a hook shot, after making 22.
Switched to the southern end, and opting to go around the wicket, Harris tested Barath with a bouncer just outside off stump and the diminutive Trinidadian, who had repeatedly allow such deliveries to pass, took the bait and top-edged to deep, backward square leg for Siddle to take a simple catch.    
Brathwaite, who was missed on ten when Siddle failed to grab a return catch, and Edwards took the score to 60 for one in 29 overs at lunch and on resumption, both batsmen played positively as Clarke switched around his bowlers, even introducing himself for two overs of left-arm spin.
Missed opportunity
Australia missed another opportunity to remove Brathwaite when he was 44 as Ricky Ponting, diving full strength to his right at second slip, floored a difficult chance off Shane Watson.
Edwards went after off-spinner Nathan Lyons, going on the front foot and effortlessly lifting him through long-on for four and then picking him up and sweetly lofting him into the lower level of the 3Ws Stand at long-on for six.
Clarke brought on his seventh bowler part-time leg-spinner David Warner and Edwards greeted him with a lofted four through long-off to reach his 50.
In the next over, Edwards rode his luck when two elegant drives through extra cover for boundaries off Siddle to bring up the century stand in 140 minutes were sandwiched by a dropped catch in the slips by Watson off the same bowler.
But just as Edwards was moving into high gear, Warner held a stinging low return catch to take his first Test wicket as the batsmen pulled a short ball back to the bowler.
Just before the Windies went to tea at 158 for two, Bravo nonchalantly lifted Warner for six over long-on and followed up with a back foot punch through the covers for four.
But on resumption, Brathwaite, who was then 53, added only four more runs.
 It now up to the middle and lower order to do the second part of the examination.


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