Carlos Brathwaite tried to describe how he was feeling. It was “bittersweet”. It was “heart-breaking”. He was “devastated”. It was a little while after play had finished. A game in which his remarkable, barely believable hundred had almost sealed a famous victory for West Indies against New Zealand at Old Trafford. But the pain was obvious. His dismissal from the last delivery of the 49th over, caught barely a yard inside the boundary, left his side five runs short. “Everyone believed we could get over the line,” he said.
The belief was there alright. And if Brathwaite had hit the final ball of Jimmy Neesham’s penultimate over with just an iota more timing or power, the belief would have turned into reality. “I thought it had enough bat on it,” he said. “I was willing it to go up and up and up. It’s a game of margins. One or two yards more, we would have been victorious tonight.”
Brathwaite’s hundred was the star turn of a captivating match but West Indies’ lower-order played their part too. Kemar Roach, Sheldon Cottrell and Oshane Thomas helped add 122 runs for the last three wickets. Brathwaite and Thomas put on 51 for the final one, taking their side to the brink. Thomas didn’t score any of them.
“As soon as Sheldon got out, the conversation between Oshane and myself was “I’ll do the scoring”,” Brathwaite said. “Myself and the lower order, we talked about it. Everything that we talked about happened, except getting over the line. The fight that the lower order showed was commendable.”
Did Brathwaite consider taking a single off the final delivery and taking the game into the last over? “I did tell Oshane about it. Told him we had to remain positive, we’re one hit away. Still watch the ball, still react. If it’s not a ball I can get a six off, try to get a single. He was on high alert. But if it came in my area, I’d try to finish the game on that ball, which I did.”
Brathwaite’s career has stalled since the famous Kolkata night in 2016 when he hit Ben Stokes for four consecutive sixes in the final over to win the World T20 for West Indies. Before the game at Old Trafford, Brathwaite had just one half-century in ODI cricket. He was averaging 14 with the bat. He had been left out of the match against Bangladesh. This, finally, was the performance his career needed.
“Obviously, I know I can [do it],” he said. “I never stopped working. Kept working hard. It’s good to see your hard work pay off. For me personally, for my confidence, as a result of all the hard work I’ve been putting in, it’s finally good that it comes to fruition. Devastated not to get over the line, but also giving thanks for the performance. I’m not going to beat myself up, because the ball should have gone for six and we should have won.”