A century of Nkrumah Bonner’s marathon helped West Indies take a 62-run lead with a wicket in hand after day three of the first Test against England in Antigua on Thursday.
The Jamaican, at the age of 33 playing only his 10th Test, showed utmost care and patience as West Indies climbed to 373 for nine wickets in their first innings at Viv Richards Stadium . After more than nine hours at the crease, Bonner was out just before the stumps for 123, his highest Test innings on a day when just 171 runs were scored at an under-two-by-over average.
His 355-ball shot included 12 fours and a six, and he was eventually sent back caught behind part-time bowler Dan Lawrence, who drew a slight inside edge to claim only his second Test wicket. Bonner’s task was made easier by the absence of England’s fastest bowler, Mark Wood, who left the pitch with an elbow injury early after sending just five overs in the morning.
While a draw is probably the most likely outcome on dead ground, Bonner’s performance reduced the likelihood of a West Indian defeat in a game that is still highly uncertain. “It means a lot,” Bonner said.
“Today the team needed me and I’m happy to have advanced. Obviously we are in a decent position.” Earlier, he upped his ton by 257 balls when he swept spinner Jack Leach for four.
It was a fitting shot considering the majority of his runs have come from behind the square, and perhaps the weariness of such a long stay in the crease helped explain Bonner’s muted celebration. He simply glanced briefly at the sky before hugging teammate Kemar Roach.
Bonner’s previous Test century came on the same ground against Sri Lanka last March. Bonner, abandoned on leaving Leach at the age of 73, had a few luckier escapes after reaching his century.
It survived two low weight reviews off Leach and received a low weight from Ben Stokes, but the decision was overturned when a review showed a thick inside edge. Unusually, West Indies’ scoring pace slowed with each 50-point step, an indication that the field is becoming increasingly lifeless as the game progresses.
England captured just five wickets all day, unable to easily dislodge the tail on a pitch offering no assistance to the rapids. Number nine Roach survived 89 bullets before being run out for 15, while No. 10 Veerasammy Permaul was unbeaten on 26 at the end.
“Tomorrow we want to beat for at least an hour and put the pressure on the England batsman,” Bonner said.
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