First in our list of the Test innings of 2021 is Kyle Mayers’ 210* in the fourth innings to secure a memorable fourth innings win over Bangladesh at Chattogram. Jo Harman on an extraordinary performance that came from nowhere. This article first appeared in Issue 52 of Wisden Cricket Monthly.
Kyle Mayers 210* (310)
Bangladesh v West Indies
West Indies’ improbable victory over Bangladesh at Chattogram, described by Ian Bishop as “one of the most significant achievements” in their history, had even the most diligent of cricket scribes firing up their search engines. Who was Kyle Mayers?
The 28-year-old Barbadian had just scripted Test cricket’s highest successful run-chase in Asia, making an unbeaten double-century on debut to steer the visitors to their target of 395 with three wickets to spare. And to look at his cricketing CV, the innings had come from nowhere.
Heading into the series Mayers had a first-class average in the 20s, with two hundreds to show for six patchy years on the domestic circuit, often playing as a bowling all-rounder. In 2018 he’d taken a break from the game to assess his options, returning the next year and forcing his way into the international set-up after a productive season for Barbados and some eye-catching knocks in the Caribbean Premier League. Still, were it not for 12 players declining to tour Bangladesh due to Covid concerns, Mayers would likely not have made the team.
It was those absences, and the unfamiliar conditions in Bangladesh, which led Bishop and others to describe the victory in such glowing terms. A considerably more experienced group had been comprehensively beaten on West Indies’ previous visit in 2018 and there were fears that this time around they could be humiliated. Clive Lloyd wrote an open letter to the group ahead of their departure.
“I’m aware that you’re embarking on a tour which you probably weren’t prepared for and perhaps you feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end and that people expect you to stand and deliver,” said the former West Indies skipper. “This is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate your talents and skills to the world and prove to all and sundry that you’re not second-class cricketers. You can step up to the plate.”
Mayers later described that letter as the inspiration for what followed, his fourth-wicket stand of 216 with fellow debutant Nkrumah Bonner denying Bangladesh a wicket in the first two sessions of day five before he opened his shoulders to propel West Indies to their target with 15 balls to spare. A week later the tourists triumphed by 17 runs at Dhaka to complete a stirring 2-0 series win.
“This was my longest innings,” said Mayers after his match-winning performance at Chattogram. “I learned that I can be patient. I learned that I could just stay at the crease, and bat as long as possible. I don’t want to be a one-hit wonder, I want to be successful and consistent for the duration of my career.”