Darren Bravo is living proof that imitation is the best form of flattery and learning. Only he chose to do it with one of the most inimitable masters of the game. To try to imitate is one thing, to pull it off at Test level, to imbibe it so much that it becomes you, is quite another. Brian Lara's cousin and Dwayne Bravo's half-brother, the younger Bravo, used to watch cricket only for Lara. As soon as Lara would get out, Bravo would switch off the TV and go out to bat.
The result was not quite The Prince, but a talented left-hand batsman with the same walk, the same backlift, the same flourish, the same footwork, the same mannerisms. The most incredible part, though, is that none of it seems forced, gratuitous or less than the best that Bravo can do. The man was born to bat this way, right down to the same Lara leap upon reaching a century.
It was that century that eluded Bravo for his first 31 ODIs, nine Tests and four T20Is. The appetite, though, was there. For a stylish and attacking batsman, he is one of the few young stars in world cricket who feel more at home as the length of the format increases. His early century drought might suggest otherwise, but he is a man for long innings, a man who seems to love to bat on and on. His first century arrived in Bangladesh, in his tenth Test, and he made it a big one, falling five short of a double. He scored two more in the series in India immediately after. After 12 Tests his run aggregate and average were identical to that of Lara's after 12. He scored his first ODI century against Zimbabwe in 2013.
Of course Bravo doesn't have to face the quality of bowling Lara did, and he bats a position lower that Lara's No. 3. Like Lara he will soon become the best batsman of a struggling batting line-up. What he does with a team even weaker than the one Lara played in will be Bravo's real test.