West Indies opening batsman Kraigg Brathwaite has defended his captain, Jason Holder’s decision to bowl first at Old Trafford. No team has ever won at this venue after bowling first, and the team to have batted first here have won on the last four occasions. Given the track record, and that the West Indies lost the previous Test match after opting to bowl first, it was a surprise to see Holder opt for the same again. To add to the scheme of surprises, Rahkeem Cornwall, the Leeward Islands off spinner, has been picked ahead of speedster Alzarri Joseph.
Brathwaite, in a virtual press conference after the first day’s play, said, “It’s been a pretty even day. We had a plan to bowl first. There was moisture in the wicket, and we thought as a team we wanted to utilise it. They got a good partnership, but I don’t think we’re out of it, to be honest. Once we come out tomorrow and control the scoring rate, build that pressure, then I think we can get some wickets in the morning.”
With the possibility of a washout of play today and tomorrow looming large according to the weather forecast, West Indies may require to bat well only once in order to save the game, but Brathwaite denied that the forecast had an influence in their plan to bowl first, and refuted the idea that Holder was playing it safe.
“I wouldn’t say that, we saw some moisture in the pitch. Our plan was to get wickets early and put them under pressure. I wouldn’t say it was because of the weather as such,” he said.
Brathwaite stated that early wickets for the West Indies will be the key to get back into this Test match. He said, “Early wickets will be crucial with the new ball, the harder ball. But if we don’t get early ones, if we stay in it, there’s one less specialist batsman, Woakes can still bat, but two or three wickets could happen. We’ve got to be very disciplined when we start out in the first session. The harder ball on the surface is always good (so) I think the new ball’s crucial for us. Once we build that pressure with some tight overs, we’ll get some wickets early.”