Chris Stocks, at Headingley, Leeds
Chris Stocks, at Headingley, Leeds
It had not been the best week for either Kraigg Brathwaite or West Indies after their innings hammering at Edgbaston last Saturday.
Things, though, turned around spectacularly for the opener and his team on the second day of this second Test against England.
Match report, highlights: England v West Indies
Brathwaite had been reported for a suspect bowling action after the opening Test of this three-match series.
But he reminded everyone exactly what he does best in scoring a magnificent century in Leeds.
This innings, Brathwaite’s sixth Test century, has put the tourists in charge of this match coming as it did during a mammoth 246-run fourth-wicket stand with Shai Hope, who was unbeaten on 147 at stumps after compiling his maiden hundred at this level.
It is a partnership that has also given West Indies a different kind of hope after the nadir of Edgbaston, where they lost 19 wickets in a single day to slump to the most humiliating of defeats inside three days. They will now feel they should win this match after ending the second day with a lead of 71 on 5-329.
There was a joke doing rounds earlier in the week that this Test, which started on Friday, would be finished before the Leeds Festival, which closes on Sunday with Eminem headlining on the main stage.
Brathwaite went to the same high school in Barbados as Rihanna, who collaborated with Eminem on hit single 'Love The Way You Lie' back in 2010. And he has ensured that if this match is all over by Sunday then it will be England who are the defeated team.
Brathwaite’s old school, Combermere in Bridgetown, has a proud cricketing history with the great Frank Worrell, Carlos Brathwaite, no relation to Kraigg, and England’s Chris Jordan all former pupils.
And this innings from Brathwaite lived up to that proud heritage.
It really should not have come as a surprise given the 24-year-old is a proven performer at this level. Two years ago, in Grenada, he scored a fine century against England and, last November, he became the first opener to remain unbeaten in both innings of a Test when West Indies sealed a notable five-wicket win against Pakistan in Sharjah.
Just 39 matches into his Test career, Brathwaite certainly appears to have a bright future ahead of him. The same can be said of Brathwaite’s fellow Bajan Hope, who at 23 is a year younger than his team-mate and now has a Test century to his name in the 12th match he has played at this level.
Hope made his debut against England on his home island of Barbados two years ago. He may have only scored 14 runs as an opener in that match, but he has clearly grown since then and his innings here at Headingley was as brilliant as it was significant.
"Relief," Hope said after being asked how he felt about his first Test hundred. "It was good to get the monkey off my back. I felt the pressure. As a professional you want to perform to your best.
"I just tried to bat as long as possible and stick it out. The key word for us was fight. We are not coming here to let people run over us."
Brathwaite, who reached his century by launching Moeen Ali for six, said: "I am very happy for Shai and there is no better place to do it than in England. Playing here you know the ball will do a lot and we said we would do it for the team.
"Once we got some momentum that helped. So far it has been good but we need to build the lead. The bigger lead the better for us."