By Neto Baptiste
Although West Indies captain Kraigg Brathwaite has had a poor run of form in his last two matches, former fast bowler Kenneth Benjamin believes the opening batsman has proven himself an asset as a leader.
Benjamin, who claimed 92 wickets in 26 Tests for the West Indies, said the Barbados player has shown that his leadership style is effective and that he has the support of his teammates.
“The bowling is always doing their job and the field placing and other things looks fairly okay. He looks as if, apart from the slow over rate, that he has got control. The players are playing for him when they are on the field, but his batting is really struggling. In terms of his captaincy, I think that he looks a better leader of men, he looks a better manager of men on the field, so in terms of his overall captaincy performance, I am giving him a good mark,” he said.
In the two matches against South Africa, the 28-year-old batsman had a highest score of 15 and in total scored only 28 runs, which included an early duck in the first innings of the second match. Prior to heading into the South Africa series, Brathwaite had averaged 33.43, including scores of 126 and 85 against Sri Lanka in the previous series.
Benjamin said Brathwaite should not feel too bad as there were not too many bright sparks with the bat during the recent series.
“At the end of the day, people will murmur but when you look in the team, a lot of people would want to look in the mirror before they start to murmur. I think what they need to do is leave the murmuring for us on the outside and they need to focus on their task at hand as well, too. It shouldn’t be their headache if the captain is not doing well. I think the captain is leading in terms of on the field but not in terms of batting, but I think that is a job for Phil Simmons and Roger Harper,” he said.
The Antiguan, however, warned that if Brathwaite — who replaced fellow Barbadian Jason Holder as captain in February this year — does not improve with the bat in short order, he could find himself in a spot of bother with the selectors.
“That is the thing when you give someone who doesn’t demand a place in the team to be captain. It is added pressure if they don’t live up in terms of their skills performance and, like I’ve said, if there was such a thing as a non-playing captain, then he definitely would be the one for me if he can’t get in, but he has got to perform if he wants to keep his job,” he said.
Following the team’s 2-0 series loss to South Africa on Monday, Brathwaite apologised to the fans, blaming the batsmen, himself included, for the team’s demise.