Carlos Brathwaite gave an exclusive interview to Dhaka Tribune where he shared his thoughts about his career, epic performance in the World T20I final, experience with the Titans, BPL and career plans, among other topics
“Carlos Brathwaite, Carlos Brathwaite, remember the name!” This famous line uttered by West Indian commentator Ian Bishop still echoes in the minds of cricket fans around the world. Bishop was heaping praise on West Indian big-hitter Brathwaite after he smashed four consecutive sixes against England’s Ben Stokes to claim the 2016 World T20I title for the West Indies. And like Bishop has said, the world has indeed remembered Brathwaite ever since his brilliant exploits. Currently the West Indies T20I captain, Brathwaite is playing for Khulna Titans in BPL 2017, and has been magnificent with the bat. Brathwaite gave an exclusive interview to Ali Shahriyar Bappa of Dhaka Tribune where he shared his thoughts about his career, epic performance in the World T20I final, experience with the Titans, BPL and career plans, among other topics. Here are the excerpts:
How did your career begin?
I started playing cricket probably when I was three. My dad used to tell stories about myself, how I was able to play shots and throw balls in the backyard of our home. So it runs in the family. My cousin Jonathan Carter also played for the West Indies. We grew up together. My dad played cricket locally. So it was always there, cricket was always in my blood. Street cricket and village cricket were always going on at that time in Barbados. So I fell in love with the game, and now here I am.
This is the first time you’re playing in the BPL. How has the experience been so far with the Titans?
It’s been fun. Again I am in a happy dressing room. Good bunch of guys in Khulna Titans. I also have West Indians in the dressing room which helps. The team has gelled well. Mahela Jayawardene has been a fantastic coach. The support staff is really helpful. The management staffs are very fine, very relaxed. I am totally enjoying the BPL. Security has been very tight. I did not expect the wicket to be as good as they are in BPL. I expected 110-120 score. But the wicket has been absolutely fantastic. Many scores of 170-180 in Sylhet and Chittagong. Couple of 200-plus score as well. Looking forward to a strong finish to the tournament and bring the cup for Khulna Titans.
— Khulna Titans (@khulnatitans) November 19, 2017
Who were your role models growing up?
Obviously I loved watching the game of Brian Lara, Carl Hooper. Also I followed Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh. When I was a lot younger I was really looking to Rahul Dravid. I started my career as top-order batsman, opener or No 3. So my idol batsman or role model was Dravid then. In later years, when I got bigger and stronger, I started to model my game around Kevin Pietersen. As a bowler, I followed Glenn McGrath, not the quickest but very steady with the ball. So those three are probably the biggest influences in my career while I was growing up. In my first-class and international level, the game changed. I have played all three formats for the West Indies. And I have met a lot of stars at home who I can look up to. I asked them questions gradually. There are Kieron Pollard, [Darren] Sammy, [Dwayne] Bravo, [Andre] Russell. So now there are quite a few persons who I can look up to. So in terms of T20 cricket there are a lot more superstars, role models who are West Indian.
Who are your favourite batsmen now in world cricket?
Virat Kohli, Steven Smith, Joe Root and Kane Williamson. David Warner is under-rated. I think he should be considered in the same level as Kohli, Smith, Root, Kane etc. There are also [Hashim] Amla, AB de Villiers. I did not mention any West Indian batsman in the list at the moment. But I can see young Shai Hope, and Darren Bravo playing in international cricket, and we know the quality they possess. Hopefully after a few years, when we have this conversation again, then both of their names will be mentioned, and I also hope a few other young players will pop up and will be considered as top batsmen of the world from the West Indies.
You had a brilliant first-class debut, claiming 7/90. Are you more comfortable as an all-rounder or as a batsman?
People very close to me still say I am a batsman first, who can bowl a bit. During U-19 days I was a top-order batsman. Then in the highest level, in Barbados and in the first-class level I was considered more as a bowler, who is very good with the bat. Then I played Test cricket for the West Indies where I have an average of 45 with the bat and 242 with the ball. So I would probably be considered as a batman in Test cricket who know how to bowl (smiles). So the positive is in different times, either with bowling or with batting, it is good to absorb more skills which can be useful for the team.
Carlos Brathwaite by now is a household name and a powerhouse in the cricket world. The 29-year old cricketer secured his spot on our #30under30 list for being an impressive athlete, as well as an entrepreneur, the mind behind the brand of Trident Sports. A Combermerian, he carries on the cricketing traditions of the prestigious University of Waterford which produced notable greats such as Frank Worrell. His jaw dropping four sixes in the last over off Ben Stokes that secured victory for the West Indies over England in the ICC World T20 final last year cemented him in the hearts and minds of cricket fans across the world. The young cricketer was able to help the West Indies secure their second World Twenty20 title and became the first West Indies player to hit four consecutive sixes in a T20I match. Even though this was his first World Cup we expect many more from him. Brathwaite was later named captain of the T20I side. Carlos has the personal philosophy that, “As a player and a person, I want to get better each day… and try to become the best version of myself.” #bazodeemag #bim30under30 #barbados #cricket #cricketer #carlosbrathwaite #westindies #westindiescricket #worldt20 #combermere
You made your debut against Bangladesh in Bangladesh for the West Indies. Will you share the memory of your debut?
There are not too good memories to be honest. I made my T20I debut here in Mirpur in 2011. I can remember I scored one run with the bat. And later I came to bowl the second last over of the match. Bangladesh needed 22 runs to win and I conceded 14 runs and Bangladesh won the match by three wickets. So it was not the best T20I debut (smiles). And I also made my ODI debut here in Chittagong. We were all out for just 62 runs. So they were not the best debuts to be remembered. But anytime you are wearing the West Indies cap and get a chance to play for the West Indies is a privilege and honour.
You have played the game in Ireland. Why did you decide to play there?
The chairman of selectors from Barbados has played in Ireland for 16-20 years I guess. So clubs in Ireland always asked him whether he knew any young cricketer who were interested to play in Ireland. He told me about playing in Ireland. I had an offer from England then. You know everyone in the Caribbean go to England in some point of their career and majority have a chance to play professionally in England. Not many players play in Ireland. So I saw it as a challenge to go to a different place and face a new challenge. I was very, very impressed to see the level of cricket there. I played against Trent Johnston, the O’Brien brothers at times. So the standard was very high and the players who played against me later represented Ireland. So the standard was good, and thankfully they have been granted Test status. It’s a boost for their country and their cricket as well. So I really enjoyed my time. Ireland was a great challenge and fantastic experience for me and I am happy that I chose Ireland to play cricket.
You have played only three Tests so far for the West Indies. Do you wish to become a regular Test player, as you are currently considered a better player in the shorter formats?
Yes, I do enjoy Test cricket more. But I guess, at this stage and age in my career I have to balance my dream and reality. At this stage I have to make critical decisions. Obviously that wouldn’t please everyone. I have a plan to get married next year. I want to give my mom and dad good retirement; my little sister is now in university age. There are lots of things in life beyond cricket which I need to evaluate. Ultimately decisions would be made when time will come .
You went down in West Indies cricket folklore after hitting four consecutive sixes in the 2016 World T20 final against England to win the game for your side. What was going through your mind in that last Ben Stokes over?
I just tried to forget the equation and be focused. I can say, it was one of the times I was more focused, if not the most focused in my career. My focus was to just watch the ball closely and react accordingly. I mean looking back at that, if you ask anyone, “Can you score 19 runs in a World Cup final?” They will probably say no. I probably would not want to be in that situation again either. But it happened and thankfully I scored those runs and went to the history books. And it was a privilege for me to give my team a win.
When did you start to believe that it was possible. After the first six, or the second?
The only time I started to celebrate is probably after the third ball (third six). I told myself, after first six and second six “stay focussed”. That got me to hit six again in the third ball. But after the third six, we needed one run off three balls. The odds were in our favour. I realised that it is more likely we will win from here. The West Indies women’s team stayed to support us in the final and my fiancée Jessica Felix was part of the women’s team as well. And I just decided to enjoy the moment as it was such a situation that would probably never come again in life. So after the third six I realised that the game is in our favor and we probably will win. So I soaked up the comment and enjoyed it to the fullest.
You are captain of the West Indies T20I side now. There are so many big hitters in the team with so much talent and potential. What’s your ambition as a skipper?
Firstly my aim is to keep the guys together. It’s a great dressing room to be in. Everyone knows the squabbles players had with the board. But thankfully the recent time is more amicable. Most of the guys want to play for the West Indies. So it’s a bit of managing all the expectations and keep the dressing room happy. I am probably the youngest in the dressing room as a captain. It’s an absolute honour and privilege. It’s never too much technical stuff for me, rather be supportive to the players and enjoy myself. My job is to assure players and fight for them in their hard time and also help to understand their role in the team. To be fair, there is not much to do, because the team I have received are performing very well. We are just building up the team for the next World Cup (in 2020) and the hardest test will be retaining the crown.
Do you think Sir Viv Richards could have been a destructive batsman in the T20 era?
All great players find a way to adapt and perform. So I am sure Sir Viv would have adapted and score runs in this era.