Interim West Indies Test captain Kriagg Brathwaite has been branded a “general of the highest proportions” by Ian Bishop, with the former West Indies fast bowler contending the seasoned opener had molded the side into “national heroes”, in the wake of the series whitewash of Bangladesh.
The 28-year-old was thrust into the role of leading an inexperienced 15-man squad for the two-Test series hereafter regular captain Jason Holder declined selection over COVID-19 fears.
Holder was joined by Darren Bravo, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase and Shimron Hetmyer in opting out, resulting in the backbone of the Test side’s batting disappearing for the series.
On Sunday, however, Brathwaite produced a captaincy masterclass as he presided over a thrilling 17-run victory in the second Test, snatching three wickets with his unpracticed off-spin to play a key role in bowling Bangladesh out for 213.
“When you look at the way the opening partnership [for Bangladesh went], 59 for that opening partnership, to have this capitulation instituted by a brilliant move from the captain to bring himself on [was outstanding],” Bishop gushed following the result at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Bangladesh.
“Kraigg Brathwaite is a general of the highest proportions. His captaincy today has been spot on. There were times you could’ve thought – and I’m sure he would’ve thought – [to bring Shannon Gabriel back].
“Shannon Gabriel was loosening up for about an hour. Every time he started loosening up, someone got a wicket.
“Jomel Warrican [was] brilliant in the end, [he] struggled a little bit early [but finished] with three for 47.
“Brathwaite [got] three for 25, Rahkeem Cornwall [got] nine wickets in the Test match – national heroes all.
“They braved the pandemic when others didn’t make it and to win this two-match series two-nil has been a tremendous, tremendous accomplishment for the West Indies team.”
He continued: “It is a series victory for the ages, given all that has been stacked against them coming on this tour to Bangladesh. These men have achieved what many thought impossible.
“‘Captain Fantastic’ Kraigg Brathwaite has made his men national heroes.”
The fairytale started in Chattogram when West Indies, fielding three debutants, stunned the hosts by three wickets after chasing down an improbable 395 on the final day.
Kyle Mayers, on debut, struck a historic unbeaten 210 and in concert with another debutant, Nkrumah Bonner (86), put on 216 in a fourth-wicket stand to underpin the run chase.
When West Indies collapsed from 41 for three overnight to 117 in their second innings on Sunday’s fourth day and set Bangladesh 231 for victory, a series win seemed set to elude them.
However, Brathwaite proved inspirational with field settings and the rotation of bowlers, and his players responded favorably to upset the hosts again.
The 53-year-old Bishop, who claimed 161 wickets from 43 Tests and has since become a well-respected international TV analyst, said Brathwaite had left a firm imprint of his own leadership and industry on the touring side.
“The team reflects Kraigg Brathwaite’s leadership. Kraigg is industrious, hard-working and has a great work ethic and the team reflects that personality,” Bishop argued.
“They are coachable. A friend of mine told me years ago that if a team has players that are always willing to learn and are coachable, there is no limit as to what they can achieve.
“I’m not saying this team is the number one team suddenly in the world or they are the number three team – that is the ultimate goal. This team is on the road on that journey. They’ve taken significant strides on this tour.
“How many would have given them a chance to win two-nil coming here? I don’t know of any. Their self-belief is so aspirational.”
Bishop dismissed any notion that the quality of opposition had diminished the significance of the side’s achievement.
“People may say it is only Bangladesh but Bangladesh at home have proven to be a difficult opponent for even higher-ranked teams,” Bishop pointed out.
“So with the inexperience in this West Indies batting lineup, this is a tremendous achievement.”