MELBOURNE (Reuters) A thick gloom that has pervaded the West Indies lifted briefly on Monday as paceman Carlos Brathwaite struck a defiant half-century on debut and celebrated wildly upon taking his first wicket during the second test against Australia.
West Indies have been widely panned for a perceived lack of commitment as much as the quality of their cricket during a tough tour Down Under, but Brathwaite’s spirited 59 helped fire up the Caribbeans’ dressing room.
Resuming on 91-6 in response to Australia’s imposing 551-3 declared, Brathwaite rode his luck with top order batsman Darren Bravo in a 90-run stand to help push their team to a credible 271 before they were dismissed at tea.
Although Australia captain Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja batted the hosts to an imperious 459-run lead at stumps, the 27-year-old Barbadian was satisfied his team had secured a nourishing moral victory at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“I was just happy that I could contribute to a fighting day’s performance and we hope that the fans in the West Indies get a smile back on their face and realise that we’re not just here for being here’s sake,” Brathwaite, who replaced injured paceman Shannon Gabriel in the side, told reporters.
“We actually want to compete and do well. I know I desperately want to represent the West Indies. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.
“It’s something I will hold dear to my heart every second that I’m out there representing the West Indies with the maroon cap on.
“I think the team spirit is there. Fortunately for me I see it day in day out.”
Making the day more memorable, Brathwaite was dismissed twice by fast man James Pattinson, bowled on 13 and caught in the deep at long leg on 50, but was called back to the crease both times after TV reviews showed the bowler had over-stepped.
The knock was nonetheless good publicity for the budding entrepreneur’s side-business as the owner of Trident Sports, a sporting goods manufacturer in the Caribbean, which produced the bat he wielded at the MCG.
“Ultimately I want it to eventually stand on its own two feet,” he said of his company. “A noticeable brand worldwide.”
Brathwaite raised eyebrows with the ball as well, having Australia opener David Warner caught in the gully by Jason Holder for 17 after he and his skipper engaged in some heated banter with the chirpy Austalian vice-captain.
He also bowled over Holder when charging through for an exuberant high-five and then slid on his knees in a soccer-style celebration that had the terraces roar their approval.
“I have quite a few (celebrations),” he laughed sheepishly.
“(Holder) almost took me out. Fortunately there was one left standing and I went and got my slide in.”
Scores: Australia 3 for 551 declared and 3 for 179 (Smith 70*, Khawaja 56) lead West Indies 271 (Bravo 81, Brathwaite 59, Lyon 4-66, Pattinson 4-72) by 459 runs.
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