Bonner, Mayers receive high marks from NeitaTuesday, April 13, 2021
BY SANJAY MYERS
WEST Indies batsmen Kyle Mayers and Nkrumah Bonner continue to attract praise after seizing the chance offered when several first-team Test cricketers withdrew from the recent tour of Bangladesh because of coronavirus-related concerns.
In Bangladesh, Mayers and Bonner, who both made their Test debut in the series opener, played outstanding roles with the bat as West Indies swept the two-match series. There, Mayers made an unbeaten, match-winning double-century in the first Test, while Bonner, though not reaching triple figures in the series, made equally monumental contributions for the visiting side.
Retained for Sri Lanka's more recent visit to the Caribbean, both were again instrumental, though the series — which was contested exclusively in Antigua — ended nil-all.
Bonner, 32, notched his maiden Test hundred in the first Test and led the team's batting average with 72 from three innings.
Mayers, 28, scored two half-centuries to finish with an average of 50.25. Once considered a bowling all-rounder, Mayers — who averages 22.06 with the ball in 36 first class matches — took four vital wickets with his medium pace against Sri Lanka.
“In adversity there is opportunity and the opportunity was grasped by the so-called second 11 team. Prior to now I don't think anybody expected Bonner and Kyle Mayers to perform at the level that they did. I don't think they are the only ones — the performance of the entire team was outstanding,” former cricketer Mark Neita told the Jamaica Observer.
“I think Bonner summed it up quite well when he said they are paid to make runs. It's a long time I don't hear a West Indian say something like that. It's such a refreshing comment coming from him,” he continued.
In last season's domestic four-day championship Bonner scored two centuries in 13 innings for Jamaica Scorpions. The Jamaican right-hander's tally of 523 runs at an average of 58.11 is his best in regional cricket. A highlight was the manner in which he gathered his runs, displaying plenty of composure and expertise alongside immense technique.
The Barbadian left-hander Mayers also had a stellar domestic four-day season with the bat. Limited by a side strain he hardly bowled for Barbados Pride during the campaign, but the subsequent decision to work harder on his batting brought him 654 runs at an average of 50.3. Mixing compact defence with his natural inclination to score freely he struck two hundreds, including a best of 140, and five half-centuries.
Neita, a leading batsman for Jamaica between the late 1970s and early 1990s, said there now appears to be batting depth around the region.
“It was a tremendous, all-round team performance [against Bangladesh], and I think the performance against Sri Lanka was also very good. We didn't win the Test series but a lot of these players are going to be very hard to displace when the previously-thought-of number one players are available.
“That is healthy for West Indies cricket because, if and when they get back in, they can't just bat and throw away their wicket like they used to. If they want to maintain their game they will have to stand up and bat,” he said.
“Though, let's remember that Bangladesh is at the bottom of the Test [rankings] but even then, a lot of people — including myself — didn't think West Indies would do very well there and they certainly surprised us,” noted Neita, president of one of the most-storied clubs in Jamaica, Melbourne Cricket Club.
Though there were solid batting performances throughout the Sri Lanka series, opener John Campbell pinched only 68 runs from four innings while Vice-Captain Jermaine Blackwood mustered 42 runs from his four knocks.
The 27-year-old Campbell, who in 15 Tests has scored only two half-centuries and averages 23.7, will be hard-pressed to retain his place for the next Windies assignment.
Blackwood, 29, however, has far more leeway after impressing in dire circumstances when West Indies lost 1-2 and 0-2 in respective away tours to England and New Zealand last year. The middle-order batsman has scored two centuries in 37 Tests and averages 30.87.
“I think, without doubt, Campbell's game is in jeopardy. He seems to have an issue outside the off stump and the bowlers seem to be able to exploit it. He's pushing at the ball instead of playing inside the line of the ball. I don't think there's any question about his ability, the only question is can he perform at this level.
“I would never discount Blackwood because I think that if you have the ability to perform against the best in the world it means you can bat. He did play a few rash shots and he did get a few good balls also, but he has shown he does have the temperament and class to perform at this level,” Neita explained.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login