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Adrian Barath: West Indies’ youngest Test centurion

Adrian Barath © Getty Images
Adrian Barath © Getty Images

Adrian Barath, born on April 14, 1990, is a West Indies batsman. Barath impressed Brian Lara at the young age of 11, while only batting in the nets. He became the youngest West Indies cricketer to score a Test century. Shrikant Shankar looks back at Barath’s career so far.

Adrian Boris Barath was born in Chaguanas, Trinidad. He is a right-handed opening batsman. He plays for Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean domestic circuit. Barath caught the attention of fellow Trinidadian, Brian Lara, while he was just 11 in the nets. Barath made his debut for Trinidad and Tobago at the age of 16 against Guyana and scored 73. He scored his maiden First-Class century in his second match. This made Barath the youngest player in the Caribbean to score a First-Class century. He scored his second ton in the next match.

Barath has played at various junior levels for the West Indies. He was part of the West Indies squad in the 2008 Under-19 World Cup. Barath also played for the West Indies A team against the touring England team in 2009. In that match at St. Kitts in January 2009, Barath scored 132 runs off 231 deliveries. He struck 16 fours and a six. This was against the likes of James Anderson, Steve Harmison, Ryan Sidebottom and Graeme Swann. He did have to wait a few months, before making his debut for the West Indies.

His debut was against Australia in the first Test at The Gabba in November 2009. Ricky Ponting had declared Australia’s score at 480 for eight. Barath only scored 15 in the first innings as West Indies led by Chris Gayle were bowled out for 228. While following-on, Barath showed his talent, as he struck a brilliant 104 off 138 deliveries with 19 fours. Barath had become the youngest West Indies cricketer to score a Test century at the age of 19 years and 226 days. The legendary George Headley held the record previously. While he scored the runs, the others in the line-up did not give support. West Indies were bundled out for 187 as Australia won by an innings and 65 runs. Barath had announced his arrival in international cricket.

He then played the second Test at the Adelaide Oval, but could only manage scores of three and 17. The match was drawn. Barath did not play the third and final Test of the series due to a hamstring injury. West Indies lost the match and the series 2-0. Barath then made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut on February 28, 2010, against Zimbabwe at his home ground in Port of Spain, Trinidad. He only scored eight runs in an easy West Indies win. Barath made his One-Day International (ODI) debut on March 4, 2010, against Zimbabwe at Guyana. He scored 50 runs in a tricky run-chase, but West Indies lost by two runs. He then played the remaining four ODIs in the series with scores of seven, 35, 25 and 14 coming respectively. West Indies won those matches and the series 4-1.

Barath was then selected in the West Indies squad to tour Sri Lanka in late 2010. He played in the first Test at Galle in November 2010. He scored 50 runs opening the innings. He shared a 110-run partnership with Gayle for the first wicket. This was the innings where Gayle scored 333 runs — becoming only the fourth player to score two triple centuries in Test cricket. The match ended in a draw. Barath played in the second Test at Colombo, but could only manage scores of three and eight. The match was heavily interrupted by rain and it also ended in a stalemate. Barath missed the third and final Test due to flu. This match was even more affected by rain, as even one innings could not be completed. The match was drawn and so was the series 0-0.

Adrian Barath compiled a century on Test debut against Australia at Gabba, Brisbane in 2009 © Getty Images
Adrian Barath compiled a century on his Test debut against Australia at Gabba, Brisbane in November 2009 © Getty Images

Barath scored his maiden ODI century in the following three-match series. In the first ODI at Colombo on January 31, 2011, Barath struck a fluent 113 off 129 deliveries. He struck eight fours and two sixes. West Indies posted a total of 245 for five in their 50 overs, but heavy rain did not allow Sri Lanka to even begin their innings. Scores of 12 and zero followed for Barath, as West Indies lost the series 2-0. Barath was selected in the West Indies ODI squad for the ICC World Cup 2011. But before the tournament started, Barath suffered another hamstring injury which ruled him out of the whole tournament.

He made his return to the West Indies line-up for the fifth and final ODI against India at Jamaica. He scored 17 runs, as West Indies won the match, but lost the series 3-2. He then played all of the three Test matches against India that followed. He scored 64 and 38 in the first Test at Jamaica, but India won the match thanks to Rahul Dravid‘s 112 in the second innings. His next four innings in the series were nothing of note. India won the series 1-0. Barath then played his second T20I on October 11, 2011, against Bangladesh at Mirpur. He scored 15, as Bangladesh won the match by three wickets. He played the first ODI at Mirpur on October 13 and had to retire hurt at 21 due to another hamstring injury. This kept him out of the remaining two ODIs and two Tests that followed.

Then in November 2011, Barath played against India in the second Test at Kolkata. Barath scored 62 runs in the second innings, but could not prevent India from winning the match by an innings and 15 runs. He followed that up with another 62 in the first innings of the third Test at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. This match ended in a pulsating draw. India won the three-match Test series 2-0. Barath played two of the five ODIs after that, but scored only 17 and zero. He then played the fourth and fifth ODI against Australia at St. Lucia and notched up good scores of 41 and 42, respectively. West Indies won the fourth ODI, while Australia won the fifth and final ODI to level the series at 2-2.

Those matches remain the last two games that Barath has played for the West Indies in ODIs. He played all the matches in a three-Test series that followed against Australia. But he did not impress anyone with only two scores in double digits with a highest of 29. Barath was selected in the West Indies squad for the three-match Test series in England in mid 2012. He started off well with scores of 42 and 24 in the first Test at Lord’s. But England won the match by five wickets. Barath had a poor second Test with scores of zero and seven at Nottingham, as England won by nine wickets. He scored 41 runs in the third Test at Birmingham, but the match was interrupted by rain and ended in a draw. England won the series 2-0.

That remains the last time Barath has played for West Indies in a Test match. So far, Barath has played 15 Tests and scored 657 runs at an average of 23.46. He has scored one century and four half-centuries. Barath has also represented the Kings XI Punjab (KXIP)  in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Barath may be out of the West Indies’ squad for the time being. But at only 24 years of age, he can be expected to make a comeback and fulfill his potential.

(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)

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