England v West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite reflect on series and his time with TMS

4 min read
England v West Indies: Carlos Brathwaite reflect on series and his time with TMS

I want to congratulate West Indies for taking the plunge and making the trip to England.

When compared to what has happened in the UK, so many of the Caribbean islands have not been affected by coronavirus in the same way.

For those players to pack up and leave their families and friends while we were going through a global pandemic is really brave.

Not only that, but because of the way the game in the Caribbean has been hit financially, they have taken a 50% pay cut.

It says a lot about their commitment to the West Indies team and the game as a whole that they were willing to make this series happen.

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Thank you, West Indies!

When they reflect, they will see it as a missed opportunity to secure a first win in this country since 1988.

West Indies played a perfect game in Southampton to go 1-0 up, sticking to a template that gives them their best chance of winning Tests; bowl first, restrict the opposition, then bat without the oppression of scoreboard pressure.

When they came to Old Trafford and England posted first-innings totals in excess of 350, West Indies simply did not have the confidence in their batting to compete.

Might it have been different had Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, who opted out of the tour because of coronavirus concerns, been here to shore up the batting?

Maybe in the case of Hetmyer, who is a strong player of short bowling, something which England used to good effect.

Then again, if Hetmyer had played, perhaps we would not have seen Jermaine Blackwood, who took the attack to England and played the match-winning innings in the first Test.

Some may also wonder if it was a mistake for West Indies to make so few changes to their bowling attack, especially with the three Tests being played back-to-back.

I won’t criticise them for that, because they took the positive option.

If you look back to before the second Test, Shannon Gabriel had just taken nine wickets in a man-of-the-match performance in the first.

With West Indies knowing one more win would win them the series, they asked Shannon to give it everything, even though they knew he wasn’t quite 100%.

If it had come off, they would have landed the historic victory. It is only with hindsight we know it was the wrong decision, so it would be wrong to be too critical.

I have seen enough to believe West Indies can keep improving as a Test team. They have an attack that can take 20 wickets, either with four pace bowlers or with the off-spin of Rahkeem Cornwall.

The batting remains a concern. The top sides have players that average more than 45, which is where West Indies are lacking. The challenge is for the batsmen to develop so West Indies can compete with the best.

No one knows what the future holds at the moment. We are unsure of future tours, series and tournaments.

However, it is the professional duty of all of those players to think about how they can improve. It might be physically, mentally, or by learning a new skill.

They should be ready for the next time they are called on to play for West Indies.

Some of the players will have time to reflect, while others, like me, are heading for the Caribbean Premier League.

If you had asked me before the series if I was looking forward to my time working for Test Match Special, I’m not sure what I would have said.

I had done some punditry before, but not ball-by-ball. I did not expect to have as much fun as I did, and I’ll leave with some really fond memories.

At the beginning, I had no idea what was going on when the commentator would say “listeners on Radio 4 are leaving us for the shipping forecast”. But, by the end, there I was reading it for myself.

I’ve had some lovely messages from people who have listened. It’s interesting, because during the second Test, we saw how social media can be a force for bad when Jofra Archer was being criticised.

Fortunately for me, I’ve seen how social media can be used for good, and I have received so many kind messages and words of encouragement.

Hopefully my playing career lasts for a little while longer, but commentating is something I will be looking forward to doing again in the future.

Thank you to the TMS listeners. I hope to be back.

Carlos Brathwaite was speaking to BBC Sport’s Stephan Shemilt

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