Inside the Elite Division
with Keith Holder
Date Published: 2019-09-27
SPECIAL: Shian Brathwaite sets new modern era BCA record by twice carrying bat in Elite division
Bridgetown, Barbados, September 27 - (www.bcacricket.org) - Almost unnoticed, gifted Empire batsman Shian Slade Brathwaite has written his name in the history books of the modern era Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) top division Championship by twice carrying his bat in an innings.
Curbing his natural aggression, Brathwaite scored 46 not out in a fighting first innings total of 162 all out off 46.5 overs by the Elite three-day Championship leaders against second-placed Wildey on the opening day of Series 5 at the SJPI ground on Saturday, September 21.
Brathwaite, a former Combermere School and Barbados and West Indies Under-19 team player, who turns 20 on October 4, batted for 210 minutes, faced 115 balls and struck three fours and three sixes to help pull Empire around after they were tottering on 95 for eight.
Wildey closed on 40 for three off 17 overs.
Last season, Brathwaite first achieved the feat in an unbeaten 49 for Barbados Youth who were bowled out for 102 in 37.5 overs in their first innings on the first day of Series 2 (July 21) against Sagicor Life UW1 at the Harrison College ‘A’ ground, Crumpton Street. He was at the crease for exactly two-and-a-half hours, faced 101 balls and struck five fours.
UWI went to triumph by an innings and 111 runs before tea on the second day after responding with 262 all out (53.2 overs) and then demolishing Barbados Youth for 49 in only 12.4 overs in the second innings.
That was a dream match for diminutive Dominican all-rounder Kavem Hodge, who had match figures of 11 for 44 (5-19 and 6-25) with his left-arm spin, along with a hurricane knock of 96 in 112 minutes off 90 balls including 12 fours and one six.
Since promotion and demotion started in 2009 (rebranded from First to Elite division in 2012) and prior to Brathwaite’s outstanding achievement, Roger Williams of Police was the last to bat through an innings. That was in October of 2016 when he scored 30 not out in a total of 85 all out off 30 overs replying to a Maple first innings total of 172 all out (69.3 overs) at Trents with the home team going on to win by 119 runs (Series 7).
Now Brathwaite is understandably over the moon, especially since he had hit a rough patch after scoring 86 and 40 against Gladiola at Rices in the first series.
Subsequently he mustered only 10 runs in four innings (4 v Barbados Youth at Lester Vaughan, Cane Garden; 1 v Wanderers at Bank Hall and 5 and 0 v BDFSP at Bank Hall).
“From one point of view I feel proud to be the only batsman at a young age to bat through an innings twice, knowing that my natural game is more attacking than defensive since mid-2016,” Brathwaite told BCAcricket.org.
“Being able to be versatile as an opening batsman and a full team player has been my greatest strength for the last three years. On the other hand, I am a bit disappointed that the team on both occasions did not get the total we were looking for because of conditions and application at the crease.
“The knock on Saturday, I knew how the pitch would have played before a ball was bowled. It’s usually spongy and slow when it’s fresh and as time goes on throughout the day, it starts to crumble and the bounce decreases, so knowing personally I was not having the best three-day season, I knew I had to dig in for the team.
“To control my aggression was really difficult at the beginning. I had a lot of deliveries I would have taken the aggressive option with but the pitch was not allowing that, so I had to counsel myself and think team throughout the innings.
“The coach Jason Haynes just kept telling to keep fighting and work my way back into form. He is not a man of many words but when he talks it is always short and to the point.”
So how does Brathwaite compare the innings against Wildey with that against UWI, who are the defending champions.
“Last year playing for Barbados Youth against UWI, that bowling attack was stronger and the pitch was a bit soft for the first half hour. When it dried it became easier to bat on but it was slow, similar to Wildey.
“There was not too much of a difference between the two innings, just the maturity level had to be greater against Wildey because coming to Empire, a club of a great history of players and also playing with new teammates, I know I had to sustain my high maturity levels from Under-19 into club life.”
Brathwaite says his objective is to score over 500 runs in the Elite division this season and force his way into both the Barbados Pride one-day and first-class teams.
The Cricket West Indies (CWI) Super50 Tournament will be played in November while the first-class runs from January until April.
“My plan for the season is to finish with over 500 runs at an average of over 45 and to be consistently a team player.
“I am very anxious and determined to make my first-class debut and also represent Barbados in the Super50 Cup in November. After having a taste of what it’s like in 2017 representing the West Indies Under-19, it mentally taught me where my game is at, how to be patient and selective as an opening batsman and a few other things that I observed from opposing teams that made me the cricketer I am today.
“From 2018, I knew my maturity level was high enough to represent Barbados in senior cricket so I will be working hard to break into the senior team.”
Brathwaite was considered unlucky not to have been picked in the West Indies Under-19 team for the 2018 ICC Youth World Cup in New Zealand after fine form in the regional Tournament in both white and red ball cricket, as well as consistently good performances in the 2017 BCA domestic Competitions.
He set a new record for a schoolboy with the most runs in a season in the top BCA one-day Competition, which has been in existence since 1972.
Playing in the Super Cup Championship for Combermere, he amassed 382 runs including two centuries with one not out in eight matches, at an average of 54.57.
Not only did he establish a new record as a schoolboy but he also boasted of the highest aggregate in the 2017 Tournament, the highest individual score, and to boot, was the only batsman to hit two centuries of 12 all told.
His closest rival in terms of runs that season was veteran left-hander Omar Phillips, then the Crane Resort St. Catherine captain, who made 366 in ten innings with two not outs, at an average of 45.75.
Brathwaite’s centuries were 148 not out against Wildey in the ninth series and 107 off Barbados Youth in Round 7 – both at Waterford ‘A’.
It was indeed puzzling why he did not even find a place in a 21-member West Indies Under-19 squad named for a two-week training camp in Barbados and Antigua in December that year to prepare for the Youth World Cup.
In the BCA Sagicor General T20 Tournament, which attracted several West Indies players, Brathwaite topped the overall averages, scoring 150 runs in three matches including one not out (ave: 75.00) for Combermere.
Then came his outstanding feat in the Super Cup.
So off to St. Kitts he went for the CWI Under-19 three-day and one-day Tournaments. And again he stood out with the bat.
Brathwaite was Barbados’ top batsman with 359 runs including one hundred and two half-centuries, at an average of 39.89 in the three-day Championship, and was again their leading batsman in the one-day Tournament, scoring 174 runs (ave: 29.00).
In 34 BCA Super Cup matches to date, Brathwaite has a very solid record, amassing 1385 runs including three centuries and eight half-centuries, at an average of 43.28.
He has cricketing blood in his uncle Sean Armstrong, a stylish former Barbados batsman, who played local top division cricket for five teams - Combined Schools South, Wanderers, Banks (now named Wildey), BCL and Dover.
According to Brathwaite, he also found out that Barbados Pride and West Indies wicket-keeper/batsman Shane Dowrich “happens to be my distant cousin through my Mom”.
“I learnt that at a family reunion,” he said.
Brathwaite received his primary school education at Hilda Skeene, which also produced former national Under-19 team fast bowler Jofra Archer, who made his international debut for England in the World Cup in England this year and played in the just concluded Ashes series against Australia at home with outstanding performances in both.
As a resident of Bayfield, St. Philip, which is a stone’s throw away from the St. Catherine Club, questions have been raised over Brathwaite’s decision to represent Empire.
“That’s the question of the year,” he said with a loud laugh.
“Well, it all started in 2017 when Jamal Smith (former long-standing Empire player and captain who now represents Gladiola from this season) invited me to a team he played for and captained in the Keith Boyce Memorial Tournament.
“I realised it was basically an Empire team and I learnt they needed an opening batsman. As the Tournament progressed I built a great connection and chemistry with the team. How they welcomed me, how they interacted with me and the energy and impressions they gave me, I knew I would have fitted in that team.
“If I get more into detail, Empire consists of four other Combermerians and five others who represented Barbados at Youth level with me. Influences like Kevin Stoute and Tennyson Roach (both seasoned Empire players) also persuaded me to join Empire.”
Brathwaite’s parents are Errol and Yvette Brathwaite. He has one sister, Sheria Brathwaite, a 24-year-old journalist at the NATION newspaper and who from a sporting perspective according to Shian, “played netball and was pretty decent at it but didn’t continue after Primary school.”
His mother played softball cricket for Hilton Barbados and was the captain and opening bat. She also represented Barbados Women on two occasions and was the vice-captain.
Perhaps Shian was always destined to be a cricketer and opening batsman as Yvette Brathwaite even played the game up to seven months pregnant with him.