West Indies batsman Kraigg Brathwaite has been the key batsman behind West Indies's first innings lead in the Southampton opener on Friday. His patient 125-ball 65 on day 3 of the Test is still far the highest in the first innings, a score that helped the visitors close in on the gap before eventually edging past. After the knock, the opener revealed the important change he made to his batting technique in adapting to batting in England.
Brathwaite, speaking to Sky Cricket during the lunch break on the third afternoon, opined that playing the ball as late as possible, no matter the length, is the key in England.
"The key is to play the ball as late as possible, whether it’s a seamer that is fullish or whether it’s back in the pitch. The later you play the ball, [the better] – that’s always worked well for me. I let the bowler come to me, so once it’s straight enough I back myself to get bat on it to get runs. But playing the ball as late as possible is key in England," said the opener.
The pitches in the Caribbean are quite slow. I tend not to change that lateness. At times your thoughts are about pushing at the ball hard, but I think down here once you push hard, you’ve got a bit chance of getting out. But I really enjoy the pitches here.
"Even if my head was falling or I didn’t get my foot out, I wanted to play as late as possible and trust my eyes to take over.
"I found with the side-on stance, with some of the balls coming in, it would lock off my foot. I just opened up to get a little better access to the inswinger, whether I on-drive or even flick, rather than side-on when I found my foot would come across. Once I keep my head still, opening up works very well for me. There was a point when I probably opened up too much, about two-and-a-half years ago against Sri Lanka, and looking back at that series I thought it was too much. It’s just about finding the right balance."
Brathwaite had played an important role in the atting lineup for West Indies in the previous tour as well, scoring 283 runs in three Tests, the second-best by a Windies batsman after Shai Hope's 375. Brathwaite's tally included once century, in Leeds, the only game West Indies had won in the previous tour, and one half-century, as he averaged 47.16.
Besides his 65-run knock, his first in 21 Test innings since his 110 in Kingston against Bangladesh in 2018, Brathwaite was involved in a crucial 43-run opening stand with Campbell and a 59-run stand with Hope for the second wicket.