PATIENCE has been a virtue for Kraigg Brathwaite.
And it is set to pay off in a big way at Warner Park today as he is poised to make his Test debut at the tender age of 18 years, 169 days old while still a schoolboy at Combermere.
“This has always been my dream to play cricket for the West Indies. It’s every boy’s dream,” Brathwaite told the WEEKEND NATION as he relaxed at his hotel here yesterday after it was confirmed that Devon Smith was omitted from the 14-man squad.
With Lendl Simmons as the only other specialist opener in the 13-man squad, Brathwaite is almost certain to play and become the fifth youngest ever West Indian Test cricketer.
“It has come earlier than I thought but I’m really happy and if I get the chance to play I will give my best. It’s not just my dream, but the dream of my father, all my family and many, many people who have supported me my entire life.
My aim is to do everyone proud,” he said.
Should he be selected in the final 11, it would mean only his fellow Combermerian, the late Derek Sealy (17 years, 122 days), Sir Garfield Sobers (17 years, 245 days), Robin Bynoe (18 years, 31 days) and the late Jeffrey Stollmeyer (18 years, 90 days) would have been younger when they made their Test debut in 1930, 1954, 1959 and 1939 respectively. He would also be the youngest West Indian player since fast bowler Jerome Taylor (18 years, 363 days) made his Test debut against Sri Lanka in 2003.
Brathwaite’s latest call-up to the regional team came in the midst of his CAPE studies and he has had to put down his books for his beloved bat after a special arrangement was made for him to take the examination in Management of Business in Guyana.
“It was really thanks to the school [Combermere] and the WICB [West Indies Cricket Board] for organising to let me do it in Guyana before the match. I was pretty relaxed and went and did what I had to do,” said Brathwaite, a holder of eight CXE ordinary level certificates.
Brathwaite has had to wait for two years to make his Test debut after he was summoned from Kingston to Kingstown in 2009 to join the Floyd Reifer-led understrength West Indies’ team following a strike by the first-choice players ahead of the first Test against Bangladesh at Arnos Vale.
He wasn’t selected in the final 11 and returned to Jamaica to play in the West Indies Under-19 Tournament. A few months earlier, Brathwaite had made his first-class debut when he was just 16 years old and even though he was dismissed for 73, missing a maiden century at that level, the hundreds have continued to flow from his bat with the present count around 50.
Two of them have been against Pakistan “A” and Trinidad and Tobago in his 16 first-class matches in which he averages 39.08. And only last month, he made an unbeaten 168 for the West Indies Under-19 team in the one-off “Youth Test” victory over Australia in Dubai.
West Indies’ captain Darren Sammy yesterday also acknowledged Brathwaite’s steely resolve, pointing to the number of centuries he has scored in his short career.
“It shows the mental toughness he comes with and that’s what we are asking for, guys to be mentally strong, and who could go out there and bat for long periods and he has those attributes,” Sammy said.
“He is a very positive young man and his stats, captaining the (West Indies) Under-19 and playing first-class cricket, he has done really well, so I think he has fitted in quite nicely in the set-up and I know when he gets his opportunity, I’m sure he’s going to grab it with both hands,” Sammy said.