Darren Bravo © Getty Images
Darren Bravo © Getty Images

 

By Faisal Caesar

 

The West IndiesSouth Africa in the ongoing World Cup was another one-sided affair. It was more about poor West Indian batting than classy South African bowling. The West Indies total of 222 was never going to challenge the best ODI team in the world and AB de Villiers’s brilliance took the game away from the West Indies.

 

While it was great to watch the wonderful timing by de Villiers, it was young Darren Bravo who caught the eye of the connoisseurs.

 

The romanticists and purists of the game were bored with the robotic batting of many of the modern day batsmen and were enthralled to see an artist painting on the mega canvas with flurry of brilliant colours. In Darren Bravo they witnessed an artist they were waiting for. He showed that he has the potential to inherit the class of Brian Lara.

 

After surviving an early lbw decision, he stunned the gathering with his art and class. In the second over he hit Dale Steyn. The South African pacer slid one down the leg side and Bravo dexterously guided it to the fence. Then, off the last ball, Steyn yet again targeted the pads; Bravo shuffled and flicked behind square-leg for four with exquisite timing.

 

Steyn continued to be punished by Bravo, stabbing the South African pacer through the covers for four. That stroke was lyrical murder!

 

Captain Graeme Smith opted for Jacques Kallis’ experience to topple get rid of Bravo. But he welcomed Kallis’s first ball by disdainfully hitting him over mid-on for four. Kallis pitched the third ball on a length but Bravo dismissed it for four wide of long-off.

 

Bravo was simply not rating Kallis as a bowler as he murderously pulled Kallis in the 12th over in front of square that brought back memories of vintage Lara. It was as if Bravo was telling Kallis, “That’s what will happen if you bowl short-pitched rubbish!”

 

Then it was time for Albie Morkel to get the bitter taste of the Bravo Treatment. The batsman slogged Morkel over mid-on; he did not contact well, but there was enough power to send it to the fence.

 

Imran Tahir was bowling in the 16th over and Bravo spotted mid-on in the circle and swung one powerfully over mid-on – the bottom hand coming off the handle as he played that length delivery. But it still had the desired effect – as the ball cleared the ropes!

 

Bravo then depended on singles and twos. Majority of them were collected on the off-side, the left-hander’s favourite area. But more importantly it was a sight for sore eyes to watch the sweetness of the timing and the flamboyance of his stroke play. He has the gift of timing and his ability to place through the gaps marks him as to quality batsman.

 

Bravo doesn’t have the flourishing high backlift of Lara, but his timing and the mindset to murder quality bowling brings nostalgic memories of the great West Indian left-hander. Bravo’s romantic batting promises to woo many cricket fans the world over.

 

His classy 73, for me, is the finest entertaining knock in the World Cup thus far. That it has come against the best attack of the tournament is a feather in his cap.

 

Are we seeing another Lara on the cricketing horizon? I would like to think so.

 

(Faisal Caesar is a doctor by profession whose dream of becoming a cricketer remained a dream. But his passion is very much alive and he translates that passion in writing about the game)