Dwayne Bravo and the art of having fun on the field
In a world where fun is so tough to experience, people resort to watching games to have some entertainment. We see the beautiful game of football, then something crazy happens that just disgusts us. Player clashes and verbal abuses all are recurring events. Moreover sometimes, the crowds take up disgusting methods to deal with those whom they despise. Balotelli fell victim to racism, Pique’s family has been abused by Espanyol fans, and even they went to extent of wanting his son to die.
And then there is a game called a gentleman’s game. You tune into a cricket match and even there, you find hatred more than fun. Just watching any games involving Australia shall make things clear. Provocation and sledging happen more often than not. Even in today’s world there are only two colours, black and white. Just think back to the Starc-Pollard clash in IPL or the Warne-Samuels clash in BBL. It cannot be said outright that racism wasn’t a part of it.
Yet, sometimes these games are our only escape out of reality. And that is when we come to know the value of people like Dwayne Bravo. Batting, bowling, fielding, he does it all. Rather, he plays the game and enjoys it. When you look at him, you look at a guy who wants to have fun. Winning or losing, is a part of the game, but what is the meaning of sports, if it is all about wins and loses.
Has anybody ever witnessed Bravo trying to psyche someone out? He doesn’t talk to the opponents. He bowls like he does, walks back to his marker and charges in again. He gets smashed for a six, he smiles it off. A distinct sight comes into mind, when a young Kagiso Rabada mocked Rohit Sharma to hit a six on the leg side, after already being hit for one. Has Bravo indulged in such a situation?
All he does is entertain. He jumps up high in the air, grabs a catch out of it and simply celebrates by a dance. He dances and he dances and he dances. What harm is there in dancing? No one gets offended by a dance. It is much better than throwing the ball down in disgust. It is a lot better than sending off your opponent. People don’t get offended by it, they just enjoy that little bit more.
He bowls with quick pace, right up the block hole and he goes back to his bowling marker. He doesn’t feel there is a need to stare at the opponent. Why should there be? If you have to use underhanded tactics to win, it just shows your weakness. Bravo understands it, and perhaps that is not his style. He wants to win, no doubt, but he wants to do it his way. He does it perfectly, He gets an opponent out and he doesn’t talk trash. Somebody like Mitchell Starc, screams at the opponent’s face after taking the wicket. Stuart Broad sent Rishabh Pant off with a mouthful of words in his debut test. What pride is there? At best, they would make the top 3 of “The most disgusting moments in recent cricket matches”.
While Bravo, his mention would only bring a smile to your face. Irrespective of country, Dwayne Bravo is loved wherever he goes. He is that good a character. You would remember his inside out shots, his perfect yorkers and his champion dance. It is easy to defeat someone but not so to win someone. Dwayne wins people over with his antics on the field.
Being such good a guy, his performances are not poor. He is one of the best death bowlers in the business. His picture perfect yorkers are very tough to dig out. He was the solitary reason, India didn’t go over the 200 run mark in the World T20 2016. They fell to the West Indies in the semi-finals. India lost to a better team and even in the post-match analysis, Bravo acted very cool. He danced, he modified his Champion song, mentioning Virat and Dhoni in it. That is how you win people over.
How good a leader is Bravo? His team has won three CPL T20 titles, two of them consecutive. How good were his performances? He played crucial cameos, ended the tournament with a strike rate of 188. He took 10 catches, hit over 20 6s and many a boundaries. He was entertaining to say the least, as he has always been.
When you have to describe Bravo’s fierce striking, you take a match from the IPL. Back in 2012, in the play-offs, Dwayne Bravo came in to bat lower in the order. The innings that he played had some reckless hitting, even picking out wide balls for boundaries. The inside out shot was so effective on the night. If that small cameo doesn’t suffice, fast forward six years later. The opening match of IPL, where Mumbai Indians, virtually have sealed everything. The top strikers back in the hut and only one man standing tall, Dwayne Bravo. It was three overs left, with 47 runs to get and Bravo went berserk. Going after the bowling attack of the Mumbai Indians. He smashed 20 each of McClenaghan and Bumrah’s overs. India’s lead bowler and Bravo smashed him all around the park, with pure muscle, pure arm swing.
In their home, the Mumbaikars fell to a blitzkrieg from Dwayne Bravo, both with the bat and with the ball. Those moments just tell, that being an entertaining person is not a bad thing. He turned Mumbai into Chennai, the crowd cheered every smashing hit that came off his bat. Everyone smiled, either in ecstasy or in disbelief. How bad could it be? Just smile after a wicket, move your feet, dance, get the crowd into it. That is how a sport should be. It should be fun, it should be entertaining.
Bravo has travelled all over the world. He has taken his dance with him, and pulled it off at every iconic cricket venue. Be it Chennai, Mumbai, Jamaica, Melbourne, the feet don’t stop moving. He is a Champion, he doesn’t need a song to prove it. He was bowling a last over to Chris Morris. He had 13 to defend, Morris took 11 runs of it, in the end losing by one run. While it would be so tempting to shout in rage, to let that feeling out of getting it done, Bravo acted miraculously. He went up to Morris, put his fist up and embraced with Morris.
Having fun is a thing, everyone should learn from Bravo. He actually is appreciated because of his tendency to entertain. He isn’t a legend, he isn’t the best batsman, best bowler or anything. But he is the best entertainer, one who plays for having fun, out of love for the game and in the process, wins a lot of things.
It has been 14 years since he has been entertaining us. 35 years since the Caribbean found a gem. A genuine entertainer. Happy Birthday Dwayne Bravo, it has been a bit late but you deserve this.