Dwayne Bravo, born on October 7, 1983, is a captain’s dream in any format. His dashing batting, deceptive bowling and athletic fielding make him the go-to man in the side. However, off-late he has made a name as a travelling T20 cricketer. Nishad Pai Vaidya profiles the career of the West Indian all-rounder.
If you had to pick a modern cricketer who symbolises the typical Caribbean flair, it has to be Dwayne Bravo. There is a flourish in almost everything he does — be it his aggressive batting, crafty bowling and athletic fielding. Those all-round abilities allow him to change the course of the game at any given point, which makes him a captain’s dream. Not to forget his entertaining dancing skills, which keep the team’s spirit high. Who doesn’t want such men on the park!
Born in Santa Cruz in Trinidad on October 7, 1983, Bravo played for North and East Trinidad in 1999. He was then selected for Trinidad and Tobago Under-19s in 2001 and made it to the West Indies Under-19 side for the 2002 World Cup in New Zealand. The likes of Ravi Rampaul, Lendl Simmons, Narsingh Deonarine and Darren Sammy were a part of that West Indies side. Following his return from that tournament, Bravo made his First-Class debut For Trinidad and Tobago in the Busta Cup in 2002. Interestingly, he played as an opener and didn’t bowl in the match. In five matches, he scored 380 runs at an average of 42.22 with one century and two fifties. The lone century came against Windward Islands in his fourth game.
That performance won him a call-up to the West Indies A side for the tour of England in 2002. He performed admirably on that tour and his stakes kept rising in domestic cricket later on. He was selected to play for a few West Indies representative sides against the touring sides. By the time England arrived in 2004, Bravo was a strong contender to make the cut for the senior side. His all-round numbers were compelling in the 2003-04 season as he scored over 500 runs in nine First-Class games and picked up 29 wickets at 14.27.
Bravo then made his One-Day International (ODI) debut against England at Georgetown in April 2004 and took two for 31 bowling first change. Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick were his first two victims. He had a decent series, although he didn’t get too many opportunities to bat. Later, he was picked for the Test side to tour England that summer and made his debut in the white flannels at Lord’s.
In what was a terrible series for West Indies, Bravo only enhanced his reputation by scripting a few good knocks. In his maiden outing at Lord’s, he scored 44, holding firm with Shivnarine Chanderpaul. In the third Test at Old Trafford, he first scored a combative 77 and backed it up with a spell of six for 55 to help West Indies take a decent lead. However, the batting collapsed in the second innings and Bravo’s efforts went in vain.
If one looks at Bravo’s early career, one would find that he made more of an impact with the ball in ODIs than the bat. In fact, his returns with the bat were better in Test cricket. In a typical run-fest at Antigua in 2005, Bravo chipped in with 107 to mark his maiden Test ton. His reputation as a middle-order batsman grew in Australia in late 2005 when the West Indians were up against the world-beating Australians in their own den. To say that it was going to be a stern test for the West Indians was an understatement.
Bravo did not play the first Test, but made an impact in the second at Hobart. West Indies were staring at an innings defeat when Brian Lara was dismissed with the score on 133 for five in the second innings. Bravo walked in and scored 113 against an attack comprising Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill. That averted an innings defeat, but could not ward off the ultimate result. In the next game at Adelaide, he delivered a spell of six for 84 which didn’t allow Australia to take a huge lead. He backed that up by scoring 64 in the second innings. Those performances only increased his worth for a West Indian side that was trying to revisit their glory days.
The talent in Bravo was obvious and he was growing with each passing series. However, the real turning point came in May 2006 as he delivered some impact performances for West Indies against India in the one-day series. Until then, his potential was known, but now the world took note of his game-changing abilities. India were expected to beat West Indies easily as they were in the middle of a fantastic winning streak. But, Bravo was to change that in a matter of a few deliveries. In the second ODI at Jamaica, West Indies were defending 198 and kept pegging India back with wickets. Yuvraj Singh stood firm and guided the tail towards victory. Needing 10 off five, Yuvraj got an edge to the boundary and then smashed the next ball for another four. Bravo had to defend two in three deliveries with an in-form Yuvraj at the other end. He then unleashed his lethal slower ball. There was no change in action as he delivered it and it sneaked through Yuvraj’s defence to shatter the stumps.
Bravo ran around the ground to celebrate. India never quite recovered from there and went on to lose the series 4-1. At Basseterre, he dismissed a dangerous Virender Sehwag and turned the tide in West Indies’ favour. In the decisive fourth ODI at Trinidad, Bravo’s 61 not out anchored a successful run-chase that saw West Indies clinch the series. He then followed it up with an unbeaten 62 in the last game. India would continue to see him perform well. The next year, his spell of four for 39 at Chennai sparked an Indian collapse, which laid the foundation to a West Indian victory.
So, Bravo proved to be quite a game-changer. In 2006, he was also a part of the West Indies side that reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2006. His best performance came against England when he scored 112 not out batting at No 3. The promotion ahead of Ramnaresh Sarwan and Brian Lara was a vote of confidence in him.
Over the years, Bravo became an integral part of the West Indies line-up and continues to deliver in one-day games. On the tour to South Africa in 2007-08, he captained West Indies in a Test match against South Africa at Durban as Chris Gayle was not available. But, that year was to change Bravo as a cricketer as the Indian Premier League (IPL) commenced. He was handed a lucrative contract by the Mumbai Indians.
The Test series against Australia clashed with the IPL and Bravo was still plying his trade for the Mumbai Indians. Bravo only made it to the series in the nick of time, courtesy the Mumbai Indians owner Mukesh Ambani, whose private jet ensured he reached his destination. In the middle of 2008, he had an ankle surgery and that ruled him out of cricket for months. He made a comeback during the series against England early next year, but his injury hadn’t healed enough for a Test berth on the visit to the British Isles in 2009. Instead, Bravo turned up for the Mumbai Indians in South Africa for the second edition of the IPL.
Bravo made a comeback during the Test series in Australia in late 2009 and made his mark by scoring a ton in the second Test at Adelaide. That is his last Test hundred till date. Then in 2010, Bravo did not sign a contract offered by the West Indies Cricket Board. It was worth $80,000 and entailed his participation for West Indies any time. But, he was also growing in stature as a T20 cricketer around the world. However, Bravo affirmed his full commitment to the West Indies team. Yet, he played his last Test in 2010 and hasn’t appeared in the format since then.
Bravo and his teammate Kieron Pollard are perhaps the first major freelancers in T20 cricket. They are ideal foils for the format and their services are sought after by many teams around the world. Of course, it would be tough to refuse such lucrative contracts in return for a West Indian one which offers lesser returns.
In 2011, Bravo injured himself in the first game of the World Cup and was ruled out of the tournament. After the tournament, he played the ODIs against Pakistan and then flew to India to feature for the Chennai Super Kings. This came at a time when the West Indies were involved in a Test series. He has played for a total of eight T20 franchises around the world, namely: Chennai Super Kings, Chittagong Kings, Kent, Mumbai Indians, Essex, Victoria, Sydney Sixers and Trinidad and Tobago Red Steel.
Despite that, Bravo continues to be a crucial part of the West Indies limited-overs sides. In 2012, they won the ICC World T20 in Sri Lanka on his birthday. He was appointed their ODI captain in 2013.
A player of his talent and ability should play more Tests as he could then leave a legacy. But, with T20 cricket around, Bravo is becoming a global superstar. His half-brother Darren is also a Test cricketer and is said to be a Brian Lara clone. Bravo has a lot more to do, but his primary task would be to resurrect West Indies in ODIs. Off the field, he made a name for himself by starring in a video with Beenie Man.
Bravo’s unfinished international numbers:
Bravo’s overall T20 numbers: