Kraigg Brathwaite: Warwickshire and West Indies batter says county cricket still 'important'

Warwickshire's latest recruit Kraigg Brathwaite says county cricket is still "important" and would encourage any player to come and play in England.

The West Indies Test captain made his Bears debut against Surrey last Sunday, little over 12 hours after flying in from the Caribbean.

It is his fifth short stint in county cricket and he says all the spells have been a key part of his "learning".

"I have no Test cricket until January so it came at a good time," he said.

"But I would always encourage our players to go and play cricket anywhere," Brathwaite told BBC Radio WM. "It is all part of the learning.

"Guys can play in the Championship and go though all the different processes - failure, success. That's how you learn.

"Playing against Surrey and other good county teams is important to get in that frame. County cricket, any four-day cricket, it gives you the balance.

Kraigg Brathwaite succeeded Jason holder as West Indies skipper in 2021
Kraigg Brathwaite succeeded Jason holder as West Indies skipper in 2021

"Franchises are good because it enables the guys to make a living.

"But, for the guys who aren't in the franchises, it's important you get any cricket you can. And any cricket in England is always challenging.

"You always learn playing any game and [it's] always good playing first-class cricket."

Although they have five T20s and three one-day internationals against England in December, West Indies do not play another Test again until January, when they face Australia at Adelaide and Brisbane before switching back to white-ball action for three more T20s and three ODIs.

"We've not got a great lot of Test cricket," said Brathwaite. "We don't have another Test until we play Australia.

"They're the number one in the world so we've got to be ready."

Fifth time in county cricket

Warwickshire are the fifth side Brathwaite has played for in the County Championship.

He had two games with Yorkshire in September 2017, four for Nottinghamshire in August and September 2018, three for Glamorgan in September 2019 and six games for Gloucestershire in April and May 2021.

Such was his enthusiasm to return to England, he even gave up the chance of playing cricket back home in the Caribbean.

"I had a tour to be on for Barbados - a select team to Bermuda," he said.

"I had to cancel that which was a shame as I had a young team I was looking forward to leading."

It meant a hurried arrival - and a less than happy outcome.

After Warwickshire won the toss and put Surrey into bat, Brathwaite spent the first day fielding as the reigning champions piled up nearly 400 runs.

He then had little over an hour's batting out in the middle over the next two days, as he made scores of 16 and 9 in the Bears' second successive defeat - and their biggest of the season, by an innings and 97 runs.

Now he will have had to knuckle down for a bit of net practice to prepare for the Bears' final three games against two of the bottom three clubs - Northamptonshire at home, starting on Sunday, Middlesex at Lord's and the final home game against Somerset.

Warwickshire should be safe from relegation, 49 points clear of danger, but they are hopelessly out of form after three successive batting collapses, are injury-hit and will be missing Sam Hain for the last two matches following his call-up by England for ODI duty.

But Brathwaite will be ready. And prepared. He is also not using last week's rushed start to his Bears career as an excuse.

"I arrived only on Saturday evening," he said. "But I was in a good space, I'd had some rest. It's not like it's something I'm not used to, given all the travelling we do in cricket.

"For me, I keep it simple. I'm all about routines and sticking to that. That does not change for me here in county cricket.

"Four-day cricket, like Test cricket, is all mental. Having your mind in the right space is always important.

"The aim is always to score a hundred. and most of the time you don't, but it's always about keeping a strong mind and thinking you will."

Kraigg Brathwaite was talking to BBC Radio WM's Mike Taylor