A batsman forever compared with the legendary Brian Lara for their similarity in batting style, Darren Bravo has become an anchor in the West Indies Test line-up. The similarities with Lara do not end with the style of batting alone though.
After one year in International Cricket, where he played 12 Tests, the stats comparison to Lara was striking. Both had scored 940 runs at an average of 47.05. n his next Test, the 13th, Bravo made 166 whereas Lara had made 167 in his 13th; this seemed almost too good to be true.
The Windies celebrated the arrival of a successor to the prodigal son, Lara. The heir had announced himself in stunning fashion, or so thought the fans. But few know that the two are in fact relatives – Lara’s mother is Bravo’s grandfather’s sister. Bravo has certainly got some genes there.
Hailed at one point as the leader of the new generation of Test batsmen after averaging above 60 in three of his first five series, Bravo hasn't quite lived up to that billing. But he certainly scores over his rivals in one particlar area.
Magnificent away record
A closer look at Bravo's statistics reveal something interesting. Normally, batsmen flourish on home surfaces and tend to average lower in away matches. But Bravo's case is weird; he has just one century in the Caribbean at an average of 29.35. However, away from home, he has an average of 52.13 with six hundreds and a highest of 218 in New Zealand.
Lara had an average of 58 in home matches, including his record breaking 400, underlining his prowess at home. Bravo's home record is abysmal in comparison. In nine home Test series since his debut, he hasn't had a series average above 40 even once. The highest of them has been 39.5, against England in April 2015.
The record in away series takes a complete U-turn. In the nine Test series he has played outside the Caribbean (excluding the ongoing series against Pakistan), Bravo has averaged above 60 in five series. He has scored big runs in India, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh.
Brilliant in Asia
An average difference of 22.78 between home and away is the highest among batsmen with a minimum of 30 innings at home and overseas conditions.
Bravo's away average is the highest for a West Indian player with at least 20 Tests. He is among only three West Indians to boast of a 50+ away average; Garry Sobers and Viv Richards are the others. Lara misses out in this category with an average of 47.80.
Interestingly, it does not look like this is a case with the pitches in the Caribbean, since all of Darren Bravo's ODI hundreds have come at home. His away average in ODIs is not much lower than his overall or home average though. He has an average of 31.25 in away ODIs compared to an overall average of 32.03. His home average is 32.76.
Given his tremendous potential and sound technique, it is a mystery that this West Indian has not scored well at home. With his superlative performances in Australia, New Zealand and Asia, it is evident that Bravo has everything needed to climb up the Test rankings table; he would do well to improve his home record in order to achieve that.
The classy left-hander might do himself some good by revisiting the textbooks of batting. While Lara was a prolific player of spin, Bravo has displayed a lack of sureness against spinners. Yet another good thing Bravo could pick up from his idol is the aptitude to play marathon innings.
Lara was a specialist at it with scores of 375 and 400 in Tests and a mammoth 501 in first class. There are quite a few hard-working innings in Lara’s repertoire. So far, Bravo has managed a double hundred, but in the absence of strong technical batsmen in the line-up, he would have to carry the whole of the batting unit.
Lara did it once. Chanderpaul took it to another level. This might well be the turn of Darren Bravo – to uplift the West Indies from the land of the dead.