West Indies ace Carlos Brathwaite has signed for the 2021 Vitality Blast on a mission to help power the Bears through to Finals Day at their home ground.

And Brathwaite will arrive in Birmingham bursting to add to the memorable successes that his countrymen have brought to the Bears over the years.

The Caribbean influence at Edgbaston has long been felt and much appreciated with some of the greatest ever West Indies cricketers having proudly pulled on the Bears shirt.

Most spectacularly, in 1994, Brian Lara arrived at Edgbaston and his batting genius launched the Bears to a stunning treble. Lara scored 2,066 championship runs, including a world record 501 not out at home to Durham, as the Bears dominated a county season like no other county had before or has since.

Lara is judged by many as the greatest batsman of all time but, according to one very good judge, he is equalled by another West Indian who preceded him at Edgbaston. Former Warwickshire and England captain MJK Smith reckons Rohan Kanhai was as good as Lara.

In more than 300 games for the Bears, Kanhai averaged almost 50 across the formats. He was one of a quartet of West Indian greats in the 1972  championship-winning team. With Kanhai, Alvin Kallicharran, Lance Gibbs and Deryck Murray in there, alongside the likes of Dennis Amiss, John Jameson and Bob Willis, the Bears’ ’72 side could have acquitted itself well in international cricket.

There has always been something magical about West Indies players at the Bears, even as recently as 2019 when paceman Fidel Edwards came in for his debut and took three wickets in his first over against Leicestershire Foxes.

Now Brathwaite becomes the latest in the long line of Caribbean kings to light up Edgbaston…and he can’t wait.

“I’ve heard a lot about the atmosphere and the big T20 crowds that come to Edgbaston to watch the Bears,” said Brathwaite. “Getting to Finals Day at our home ground would be fantastic.”

Bears director of cricket Paul Farbrace is thrilled to have Brathwaite on board – and knows first-hand all about his explosive abilities. Farbrace was England’s assistant coach when Brathwaite smashed four final-over sixes off Ben Stokes to seal victory for West Indies in the 2016 ICC World T20 final against England in Kolkata.

“I was part of the England coaching team that day, so I’m well aware of his capabilities,” he said. “I’m just glad that we’ll have the benefits of his qualities now that he’s signed for the Bears.

“Carlos is an outstanding addition to our team. He’s a game changer who will add vital firepower to our middle order, but his variation with the ball gives us another strong seam bowling option.”

Paul Farbrace