Jason Holder is the Test captain of West Indies but didn’t play a single match in their victorious World T20 campaign earlier this year. Now Carlos Brathwaite has been appointed T20 captain after having to sit out of the last three Tests West Indies have played. No one from the West Indies management has spoken about split captaincy but it’s heading that way for them. Split captaincy need not be bad. Almost all Test playing nations have experimented with the concept with varying degree of success.
But West Indies’ choice of captains looks prompted by the fact that they have no player who is good across all formats. It also creates a lack of clarity on how West Indies want their two new leaders to play. To begin with, both are all-rounders with not-so-great records. Holder is a little more experienced than Brathwaite but he has a major performance problem. He toiled for 86.2 overs for just one wicket in the Test series against India. And in four innings, he scored just 132 runs. Almost every Test this series, Holder’s performance came under review but his position might have saved him the axe.
Brathwaite hit those four sixes to win West Indies the title but he still is relatively new to international cricket --- three Tests, eight T20Is and 14 ODIs are all he has played in his young career. To be given the extra responsibility of leading the side while trying to establish himself can affect one’s personal game. Not to mention the fact that this is a side with quite a few players with great T20 records --- Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Dwayne Bravo and others. The West Indies selectors however seem to reserve a completely different opinion about a youngster leading a team of champions.
Brathwaite is not willing to read too much into the decision to make him T20 captain. “I think a team like this would be pretty easy to lead from the point of view that the dressing room is a fun place to be. So I don’t think it will be a case where I have to negotiate too many egos,” said Brathwaite on Monday. “I don’t want to get too deep into the psychology of changing leaders because all the guys are mature enough. We had some cases where players were captains and then the next series played under another captain.”
Brathwaite admitted to being hesitant and said talking to ousted captain Darren Sammy made the transition easier for him. “He just said congratulations and told me that it’s a big challenge. He gave me his blessing. It allowed me to ease into the role,” said Brathwaite. But the dual pressure of performing as an individual and play all formats will keep bothering Brathwaite as a captain just as it has bothered Holder. Virat Kohli got the India captaincy only after being the leading run-scorer in three formats. Brathwaite isn’t even assured of a Test berth.