When Jack Leach finally turned one past Kraigg Brathwaite outside edge to knock into his off-stump, the general reaction was one of shock.
Leach and Brathwaite had played out a seemingly neverending, deadlocked duel. The latter played out more than 200 balls bowled by the former, with the vast majority of them dot balls. The pitch was flat and the batting unadventurous, so it made for less than absorbing viewing at times. But Brathwaite’s concentration and bloody-mindedness was still remarkable.
In all, he batted for 489 balls and 699 minutes, seventh and third on the list of longest innings of each type respectively for West Indies. Above him in the minutes chart are two famous knocks by Brain Lara, with his 375 and 400* each taking the world record for the highest score in Test history. That Brathwaite only made 160 is a signal to his dedication, though that’s still some way above the scoring rate of Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who made 136 not out in 510 balls against India in 2002.
Brathwaite’s knock wasn’t just slow from a West Indies point of view, with that Chanderpaul knock one of just three to occupy more balls and end with fewer runs scored. Among scores of 150 or more, Brathwaite’s strike-rate of 32.71 was the fifth slowest in the history of men’s Tests.
Brathwaite is no stranger to an epic blockathon. This was the second time he has faced 400 balls in an innings, putting him on an elite list among West Indian openers, with Chris Gayle and Gordon Greenidge the only other two to have faced 400 balls more than once. Brathwaite’s overall career strike-rate of 40.25 is also historically low. For batters whose total balls faced are known, only Michael Atherton has a lower strike-rate, with a cut-off of 4,000 runs.
All that blocking meant England captain Joe Root was forced to throw the ball to Jack Leach again and again, with the left-arm spinner toiling through 68 overs in the innings, the most by an England bowler in the last 30 years. His 26 maidens were also the most by an England bowler in the same timeframe.
It had already been a run-soaked match and series even before Brathwaite’s vigil. Root had also passed 150 in the first innings, making it only the eighth time in history both captains had ‘daddied up’ in the same Test, while, just three innings in, England have already managed their most hundreds in a series since their tour of India in 2016. For West Indies, the first innings at Barbados was their longest since November 2012, when they racked up more than 600 against Bangladesh.
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