'A proud moment for me'


'A proud moment for me'

Bonner is one of two uncapped players in Windies 14-man squad

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, June 04, 2020

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IT'S been over eight years since Nkrumah Bonner last played for the West Indies senior team — a Twenty20 (T20) outing against Australia in St Lucia.

In fact, Bonner's only two games for the regional side have been in T20 cricket, a puzzling scenario considering his technically sound batting skills are tailor-made for the longest format.

Additionally perplexing, the obviously talented batsman sorely underachieved in first-class cricket until he began to rack up consistent scores over the past two seasons of the regional four-day competition.

The 31-year-old Jamaican could finally get the chance to prove he has the mettle for the long haul after he was included in the 14-man squad named by Cricket West Indies (CWI) for the three-Test tour of England.

As fate would have it, his T20 International debut in 2011 came against England at The Oval in London.

“Obviously, it's a proud moment for me. When you've done all the hard work and get rewarded to play Test cricket — that's definitely what I wanted,” Bonner told the Jamaica Observer during a telephone interview yesterday.

“I did the work and I left it up to the selectors, and they showed the faith. They have given me the opportunity to go out there and showcase my talent and show the world why I was selected,” said the right-handed stroke maker, who is accompanied in the squad by fellow Jamaican batsmen Jermaine Blackwood and John Campbell.

West Indies are holders of the Wisden Trophy after defeating the Englishmen 2-1 in the Caribbean early last year.

The return tour to England was originally scheduled to run from May to June but was postponed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. In the United Kingdom (UK), the virus — which causes the COVID-19 disease — has resulted in approximately 40,000 deaths.

Though there is an agreement in principle for the series to go ahead, the England and Wales Cricket Board is awaiting final approval from the UK Government.

All three matches are to be played without on-site spectators in cricket's first-ever biosecure Test series. Biosecure measures are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of infectious diseases.

If given the all-clear, the West Indies contingent, including 11 reserve players, will leave next week. Players and staff will be quarantined for two weeks before the opening Test, set to begin on July 8 at Ageas Bowl in Southampton. The second and third matches are booked for Old Trafford in Manchester, starting on July 16 and 24, respectively.

Bonner scored 523 runs for Jamaica Scorpions during the previous season of the regional four-day tournament. He struck two centuries and as many half-centuries in 13 innings, and registered a team high average of 58.11.

He said he is aware that the challenge will be different in England, where conditions generally favour pace bowlers.

“I got a little experience in 2011 when I went there to play T20s. It's one of the most challenging places to play cricket — coming from the Caribbean and going into that condition where the ball is going to do a little bit more a little bit later. There will have to be some adjustments, but this is what I wanted and I'm ready for the challenge,” he emphasised.

Bonner is one of two uncapped players in the Phil Simmons-coached squad. The other is 22-year-old Barbadian fast bowler Chemar Holder, a former Under-19 World Cup winner.

During the four-day competition, Holder was impressive, with his accuracy and raw venom helping him to 36 wickets in eight matches at 18.91.

“It is something I've always been looking forward to, and now I've got the opportunity to represent West Indies. Hopefully, everything goes well and we have a good tour and we come out successful in the end,” he told CWI Media at Kensington Oval in Barbados.

The rest of the 14-man squad comprises captain and ace all-rounder Jason Holder; batsmen Kraigg Brathwaite, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Roston Chase; wicketkeeper Shane Dowrich; and bowlers Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph, and Raymon Reifer.

CWI announced that left-handed bastmen Darren Bravo and Shimron Hetmyer, along with all-rounder Keemo Paul, opted out of selection.

Among the reserves is fast bowler Shannon Gabriel — reportedly fit after recovering from ankle surgery.

Pacers Oshane Thomas and Marquino Mindley are the two Jamaicans named in the reserves.

Mindley, 25, expressed happiness at the opportunity, but said his ultimate goal is to break into the 14-member set-up.

“I feel good to be a part of the 25-member squad going to England. A lot of work has been put into this, and I was expecting some good results. Basically, the aim is to get settled around the system and work hard in training, and hopefully I can be in the 14 at some point,” he told the Observer.

The touring side has arranged to travel with as many as 25 players to allow for internal preparation matches and to ensure replacements are readily available in the event of illness or injury.

Players from both teams will be required to avoid members of the public and to follow physical distancing guidelines while on tour.

Squad – Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shai Hope, Shamarh Brooks, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Chemar Holder, Nkrumah Bonner, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer.

Reserves – Sunil Ambris, Joshua Da Silva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shane Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas, Jomel Warrican.


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