West Indies have won only two of their last 11 completed ODIs. It’s an alarming stat on paper, but the team, according to Carlos Brathwaite, isn’t doing as badly as those results might suggest.
“I don’t think we are that far away,” Brathwaite said after West Indies’ training session on Tuesday. “We just continue to miss key points in the game. If we look back at the World Cup it is the same thing. If we look at the game the other day we weren’t cruising, but we were in a good position, and then we lost three or four quick wickets.
“We are just missing a few key moments that could have turned one or two loses into wins and make us look a little better, give us a little momentum, and start to try to win series more consistently.”
Chasing 270 in 46 overs in Sunday’s second ODI, West Indies lost a potentially winnable game when they slipped from 179 for 4 to 182 for 8. Brathwaite felt it wasn’t a lack of belief or skills that was causing West Indies to let such key moments slip, but a failure to execute those skills.
“I don’t think it is belief per se,” he said. “I think if you ask the guys in the dressing room if they believe they can win – I think they do believe they can win. The execution of that belief is lacking in key moments like I said. So, I don’t think it’s a lack of belief or a lack of passion and in most cases it’s not even a lack of skill, but just executing what we want to execute the key moments of the game, which was the case in majority of the World Cup and this series so far.”
As to what the players need to do in order to become more consistent, and not repeat mistakes, Brathwaite said they would not find time in the middle of international series to work on their games, and would need to put in that work at the levels below, with their respective domestic teams.
“It’s practice. It’s conversation,” Brathwaite said. “If I am being brutally honest, there is not much we can change on the international tour. That is the challenge for the [domestic] franchise to be able to do enough work, get enough information from the guys at the top. and start implementing stuff. On the tour we try to get the mind right, we try to, as a group, have conversations and honest conversations – not just patting them on the back but having honest conversations, sometimes even being harsh and try to become better players eventually.”
Speaking about his own game, he said he’s been focusing on his fitness, and his mindset as a batsman.
“We are having a lot of honest conversations with the coaches and the staff and I think one thing that’s kept me back is my fitness. I am working very, very hard in the past 12 to 14 months on my fitness – I believe I can get a bit stronger as well.
“I think batting-wise I have to reprogram my thinking in thinking about hitting and swiping and batting properly. I think there has been a conscious effort for me to try to help the team as a batsman and a bowler and try to give myself the best chance for the team and try to help West Indies win cricket games.”
Going back to his 82-ball 101 against New Zealand at the World Cup, Brathwaite said he had walked in with time to build his innings – a rarity for a lower-order batsman like him – and that his challenge would be to perform consistently even without that luxury.
“I had a lot of time to bat. I had a clear thought process,” he said. “I was working very hard off the pitch, as I am now, with the bat, in trying to do the right things and the simple things as long as possible. I had enough time so I could play myself in getting so at the back end when I normally come in to bat to start my innings I already had [faced] 40-50 balls.
“The challenge for me is that that situation won’t always present itself. Obviously, being at home, we have changed the combination a bit. There I played at seven [six], here at eight, nine or maybe seven – the thing I take away from that innings is the way I structured and built the innings which allowed me to kick off at the back end.”
With a full training session under their belt, Brathwaite said West Indies were in good spirits for the third ODI, and were confident of squaring the series.
“We drew the last series against England at home as well,” he said. “And then going into the last game it’s for us to get the batting in order – if we get good starts going into the back end that’ll give us a good chance.
“I think the batting has much improved especially since the T20s and from the overall batting performance in the World Cup as well. But, we didn’t close it off. We batted well in the second game as well, it was about closing it off – hopefully that happens in the next game as well and for the lower half to close the game.”