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Another life for Darren Bravo?

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Darren_Bravo_West_Indies_cricketNot too many retweets. No outpouring of Facebook posts. No hashtags whatsoever. Yet, if there’s a man who’s generating more buzz than even “Universe Boss” Chris Gayle at this time, it’s Darren Bravo. 

The last you saw him hold that bat and demonstrate that familiar power on the crease was at Sharjah, in 2016. After that, he was gone, as if banished to indefinite exile from the West Indian dressing room and the crease. 

Here’s what happened to Darren Michael Bravo, who has apparently returned into contention for representing the West Indies once again. 

Despite a minuscule contribution in that landmark Sharjah Test - which the Windies won on the back of Shane Dowrich and Kraigg Brathwaite’s batting - Bravo’s heroics made headlines in his team’s horrendous tour against Pakistan. Not for nothing is ‘lil’ Bravo compared to his famous predecessor, a man he idolizes- Brian Charles Lara.

In what turned out to be another in their long list of dismal overseas outings, where Pakistan reduced the Windies into rubble, winning 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs, Bravo waged a lone battle. 

Scoring 273 runs from 6 innings, including bludgeoning the first Test century under lights versus the pink ball, Bravo nearly took his side home at Dubai, when a minor loss of concentration during the closing stages of the final day saw his resolute elegance fail him. 

Just when it seemed that Lara’s cousin was going to raise the West Indian flag high, the leftie destroyed it all by offering a return catch to Yasir Shah. 

Did he not? Not even Amir could crash into his defenses. Wahab tried to perturb him with a short pitched delivery here and there. But in Bravo’s hand wasn’t a bat, but an unrelenting blade which made (almost) no mistake.

Bravo’s efforts in his magnificent 116 in the 1st Test were enough to draw praise from the Pakistani contingent that had terrorized his compatriots. 

 

But this is Cricket. 

And one has grown used to seeing the West Indies capitulate. 

Right? 

 

Even then, in the aftermath of carving a famous century and a fighting fifty, few could have predicted the meteor that came to strike the career of the Trinidadian just when he had packed his bags for a tri-nation series involving Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka (November 2016). 

In what became an ugly spat on social media, Bravo addressed Dave Cameron (President WICB) by a nickname commonly used by those who hold the somewhat draconian administrator’s antics responsible for the team’s decline. Consequently, the left hander was axed from the Zimbabwean tour.

It turned out that Bravo had been extended a poor contract. Just why would the then WICB (now Cricket West Indies) extend such mediocre treatment to inarguably their finest talent in recent years? This, considering they placed Gayle’s talent in the arena where it best flourishes: T20s. The reasoning is beyond the scope of the soundest cricketing mind.

But what both fans and admirers of West Indies bereaved was the victimization of someone who seemed just the guy who could bring back the team’s waning fortunes on track. 

What followed was a dismal period of high octane albeit lackadaisical cricketing action by the West Indies for a good part of 9 months. 

With their number 3 missing in action. 

But just as all bad things must come to an end, the honeymoon period that Bravo’s critics enjoyed in his absence has come to an end. It must be said that Bravo does seem to have some irrational haters. No rational side would even entertain the idea of axing the scorer of nearly 6,000 international runs, a talent in whom seems to rest the ability to work up miracles for a team whose lifeline in Cricket is undeniably frail. 

And that’s that. 

July is almost coming to an end. 

And the West Indies, fresh from a period of cricket where they played deplorably - against the likes of Pakistan and England at home, going as far as failing to take the ODI series against Afghanistan, though they’ve snuck away with some incredible upsets (the win against Pakistan at Barbados, the win over India in an ODI) - seem a different side. 

Capable of fighting, but inexperienced. Looking like a bunch of neophytes, which surely some of them are - the likes of Rovman Powell, Miguel Cummins and, Hope brothers - but never short of confidence. 

 

It’s only ideal that an old guard should return. And in this case, the man of the moment is 28. So while several cricketing seasons remain in front of Bravo, a man who’s apologized to Cameron for his comments regarding the contract fallout, should he also be thanking his stars? 

 

Thankful that, in his absence, the West Indies was comforted to a great degree by the remarkable rise of Bajan batting all-rounder Roston Chase- a story as inspiring as it is uplifting. 

But, knowing Bravo, who’s often seemed distraught on losing dependable batting partners, it could be said that in the presence of willow wielders like Shai, Roston, Rovman and Evin, West Indies can cricket can live another day. 

 

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