All-rounder Dwayne Bravo is in awe of the current West Indies T20 team’s batting depth, saying it is better than the 2016 World Cup-winning side and can intimidate any opposition.
“In the last series in Sri Lanka, we had a team meeting, and coach Phil put the team down, the list, and he put it down in batting order, and he had my name down at No. 9,” Bravo told ESPNcricinfo.
“And I said to the guys, I said listen, I don’t think I was ever involved in a T20 team when I am down to bat at No. 9.
“I’m just in awe of our batting line-up, and I said to the guys, I said listen, I think this team is actually better than our World-Cup-winning team, and that is no joke because, at the end of the day, you have batting all the way down to No. 10.”
Bravo, who returned from international T20 retirement in December last year to strengthen West Indies’ title defence, said the batting resources of this “intimidating” team has reduced his role to a specialist bowler.
“It’s an intimidating team, it’s a team to intimidate the opposition, and that excites me. So I will just do my part as a bowler, try to control the back end of the innings, especially closing off the innings with death bowling, which has been, in the past, a bit of a concern for us,” said Bravo, who made his international comeback in January against Ireland.
“You saw how Oshane Thomas did with his pace in Sri Lanka. Then you have Sheldon Cottrell, now a leader of the attack, Kesrick Williams on the bench, so things starting to look bright again, things starting to look good again.”
Bravo also was effusive in his praise for skipper Kieron Pollard, who had taken over the reins of limited-over teams last year.
“He loves to win (Pollard). That’s the most important thing, and as a captain, he’ll do anything to win, in the right way and the right spirit, and he’s very determined to win, to make a difference,” he said.
“I remember when they approached him to take over, I said to him, it’s going to be a good challenge, a big one, a tough one, but now is the best time. You get both teams at the bottom of the table. There’s only one way you can go, which is up, right?
“I said now is the right time, you build a team and you create a dressing-room environment where everyone is on the same page.”
Pollard has represented West Indies in 113 ODIs and 73 T20Is, scoring 3619 runs and taken 88 wickets. The 32-year-old all-rounder remains a huge figure in limited over cricket, having played in several leagues across the globe, including the IPL.
Bravo described Pollard as a “figurehead” and someone who commands respect across the globe for his achievements.
“I think what Pollard has is his honesty, which is the most important thing. You have leaders in the past sometimes that said, okay, well, I don’t get involved in the selection, I had no say, you know, they give all types of excuses and stuff, and the system will be able to maneuver them and control them, but Pollard, you can’t control him,” Bravo said.
“... The players also respect him, because of whatever he has done and achieved in the white-ball format, especially in T20 cricket. So if someone like Pollard is speaking in the dressing room about T20 cricket, we all have to listen, because he’s played the most games, he’s had success, and he’s highly respected around the world.”’
The 36-year-old also had words of appreciation for coach Phil Simmons.
“And that relationship we have with Phil Simmons as well, it’s another good thing. Captain, coach - always have to have a good relationship,” Bravo said.
Bravo said his international comeback in January, against Ireland in Grenada felt like a second international debut for him.
“I announced my return while I was in India on a music tour […] I talked to my family, I talked to my close friends, and I said I’m going to make myself available,” Bravo said.
“One of the things I wanted to make sure was that when I do make myself available that I am 100 percent committed to play T20s for West Indies. I would not say okay, I’m available, and then miss a series to go and play in a league or something like that. I just wanted to make sure I played every T20 series once selected.
(With PTI inputs)