BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Kraigg Brathwaite was confident Barbados could clinch a victory, although a sensational hundred from Lendl Simmons breathed life back into Trinidad & Tobago in the Grand Final of the Regional 4-Day Tournament on Friday here.
Brathwaite, the Barbados opener, carved out his fourth first-class hundred of 122 to steer the home team to 369 in their first innings, a lead of 259 on the rain-affected, second day at Kensington Oval.
But Simmons put the Barbadians on the back-foot with a volley of strokes in an unbeaten 111 from a mere 71 balls as T&T finished on 140 for four in their second innings.
"I still believe we can dismiss them under the deficit," Brathwaite told WICB Media. "He played very well, but we just have to stick to our basics, play to our strengths and we will dismiss them before the deficit is erased."
Brathwaite was equally confident, when he anchored Barbados with his third regional first-class hundred. He struck just nine fours from 303 balls in a typically obdurate innings, lasting 417 minutes.
The 20-year-old Brathwaite has an enviable record in age group cricket in his homeland, scoring more than 40 hundreds, but he still admitted to a bit of anxiety, when he survived one of his three chances on 96.
"I was pleased with the way I batted," he said. "The pitch was not that easy, especially with the new ball, but I just stuck to my basics, worked hard and got a big score.
"It was an innings of patience, knowing my strengths and waiting on the bad ball, knowing that I could score.
"I was thinking about getting a boundary, but I got too excited because the new ball had been taken at that time, so I really wanted to get it as quickly as possible."
Brathwaite, who has played nine Tests for West Indies, has been working with West Indies batting legend Desmond Haynes in an effort to shore up his technique, an experience that he seems to relish.
"The more work you put in, the better," he said. "I believe if you work hard, you will get results.
"When I work with Mr. Haynes, I just try to get as much knowledge as I can, knowing that he played international cricket and was very successful. Whatever he tells me, I look to work on it."
T&T fast-medium bowler Marlon Richards also enhanced his reputation, grabbing 4-55 from 21 overs, as the visitors fought back to bowl Barbados out about 25 minutes past the rescheduled tea break.
The 24-year-old Richards, who was born in Linden, Guyana, before he migrated to Port of Spain at the age of 12 when he father found work in the two-island republic, said he has been enjoying the experience of playing in the T&T side.
"Since I moved to T&T, I have been trying to play the game because I was heavily involved in athletics and I switched 10 years ago and I have been enjoying it," he said.
"Basically, I was just trying to keep it simple. My strength is swing bowling and trying to keep it in the right areas."
He said: "I am really surprised by my performance over the short period. I had heard it was a tough season and to have the success that I have had is really tremendous and I really am enjoying the experience.
"As a new player coming into the team, it is good to have players like Shannon Gabriel and Rayad Emrit around. They have played much more at this level than I have. They have told me to keep it simple and bowl at the top of off-stump and be patient. This is one of the things about bowling, you have to be patient."
Richards felt T&T still had a chance, especially with Simmons and T&T captain Denesh Ramdin, the West Indies wicketkeeper/batsman, still at the crease – but reflected on the different styles of the two century-makers in the match.
"It is always very enjoyable to sit down and watch Lendl bat," he said. "He is a remarkable player and when he puts his mind to something, bet your bottom-dollar that he will go out there and do it.
"It is something we would like to transfer that throughout the team and put a good total on the board to see if we can force an outright victory."
He said: "Kraigg was out there frustrating the bowlers and sometimes you think you are down and out, but you have to dig deep and get yourself back up for the fight.
"This is what we did by getting one wicket, we slowly got ourselves back into the game, and this is what I like about our team, we have the fighting spirit."