Lining up for his second season in the magenta of the Sydney Sixers, the UK-based Brathwaite has not travelled from the other side of the world to lecture Australians on race, but his views will challenge many to see the issue from beyond their own lens.
He uses West Indies teammates Kieron Pollard and Andre Russell, the latter a member of the Sydney Thunder’s successful 2015-16 team, as examples of players whose hard work, he believes, is not fully appreciated in their success.
Russell’s bulging muscles are obvious, Brathwaite says, but how many fans would be aware of the midnight gym workouts the star all-rounder puts in, or the running sessions up and down the corridors of the Abu Dhabi hotel he stayed in during the Indian Premier League?
“You check Russell’s Instragram you see the stories he posts at 1am, 2am, he’s riding a bike, smashing some weights,” Brathwaite said. “He has a university-sized gym in his house. All that is dedication.
“As a commentator, as a journalist, as a pundit, just go a step further. Don’t only say, ‘He’s got massive arms, he’s a big powerful guy’ because that is true, you have to say that.
“Also say I saw him up at 2am, I saw him working on his craft, he’s one of the hardest workers. Because that goes hand in hand.
“Obviously, celebrate their physical attributes, but also go that one step further and mention the hard work.”
Brathwaite has taken the knee but says he will not do so in the BBL “just for doing its sake” without the team first having a conversation on the issue. At the time of publication, these discussions had not taken place, due in part to the hectic schedule and the full team having yet to come together in Hobart.
While former Windies great Michael Holding has argued about the importance of the gesture, Brathwaite describes it as “cosmetic” if change does not follow in addressing societal inequalities.
He wants to see a black person not be overlooked for a promotion against an equally qualified white person because a manager feels “there’s something about this black person I can’t put my hand on it but I think the white person can do the job better”.
“If you see in society equal opportunities for jobs, business loans, promotions, yes you want the best person for the job but there are some jobs where you see predominantly white, old men,” Brathwaite said. “Are you telling me there’s no black persons that are adequately available?
“We have seen that there are black persons and people of colour who are adequately qualified, have projects to show they can adequately do the job to be promoted for it.”
Brathwaite returns to a much stronger Sixers side to the one whose title hopes were crippled by six straight losses to start the 2017-18 season.
The length of the BBL, criticised by some as a disincentive in attracting overseas stars, was one of the selling points for Brathwaite.
“It presents a great opportunity for me as well to learn off seasoned professionals but also get a full season under my belt” Brathwaite said. “I’ve been travelling in and out, not getting in as many games as I wanted. To be in one place for three months, playing, training, I not only want to improve games but offer some match-winning performances to retain the trophy.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald