With John Campbell and Shai Hope out of form, and everything riding on the third and final game of the England-West Indies Test series, Nkrumah Bonner could be in line for a Test debut at Emirates Old Trafford.
Who is Nkrumah Bonner?
After starting his career as a leg-spinning all-rounder, the 31-year-old Jamaican is now a right-hand middle-order specialist batsman, and the only spare batter in West Indies’ Test squad for their series against England, although Joshua Da Silva, who impressed in the West Indies’ intra-squad warm-up games, is also an option should they opt to drop either Campbell or Hope. Da Silva is currently one of West Indies’ reserve players on tour with the squad.
What’s his story?
A former West Indies U19 player, Bonner batted as low as No.8 for them in the 2008 U19 World Cup, making a four-ball two as Virat Kohli and Ravi Jadeja ran amok for India. West Indies failed to make the knockout stages of that competition.
Bonner does have international experience, though it came almost 10 years ago, playing two T20Is in 2011 and 2012. In both games, he was bowled by medium-pacers having scored at less than a run a ball. In the first, against England, it was Ravi Bopara who skittled him for a five-ball three, while against Australia Dan Christian saw him off for a 33-ball 24. West Indies lost the two games by a combined 18 wickets.
Any other strings to his bow?
Bonner bowls handy leg-spin, and his 45 first-class wickets have cost him just 31.44 runs apiece. He even has a five-for, and a vital one at that, with his 5-26 sealing a low-scoring thriller for Combined Campuses and Colleges against Windward Islands in 2011.
With the Windies looking to play the same four quicks for the third Test in as many weeks, his tidy leg-spin to complement Roston Chase’s off-breaks, could boost his claim for selection.
Why is Nkrumah Bonner in contention?
The 31-year-old’s record overall record does not stand out – he averages just 27.22 in first-class cricket over the course of his career – but he showed promise in the recent West Indies first-class season, producing two of his three career tons and averaging 58. He finished the competition particularly well, with scores of 100*, 39*, 57*, 66*, 135 and 48 in his last six games for Jamaica.
“It has been a long road, back and forth, up and down. I’m grateful I’m here and I’m just looking to make the best of it,” Bonner said during Monday’s virtual press conference at Old Trafford in Manchester.
“In 2011, I was a youngster and didn’t have much experience even at the first class level. I’ve gone back and worked on it, and getting that exposure benefitted me and I know what to expect now. I’m more experienced, a lot more focused. I think I [attribute] my success to tactical awareness and mental strength. I think the skill set was always there; you could always play all the shots in the book but it’s all about working out how you’re going to play them and how you’re going to deal with different bowlers.
“Mental strength, I’ll definitely need that, and discipline and calmness at the crease…and just the ability to soak up pressure and know that your time will come in the game. My primary job is to make runs. I have a general plan but I’m not a goal setter per se. I don’t want to limit myself, so I go out there each and every day and value my innings and do my best every single day.”