'I'm more experienced!'

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'I'm more experienced!'

Bonner says triumph and adversity of first-class cricket make him Test ready

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, July 03, 2020

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BATSMAN Nkrumah Bonner believes the domestic first-class competition has toughened him through experiences of triumph and adversity over the past decade, consequently preparing him for the rigours of Test cricket.

The 31-year-old Bonner, a member of the West Indies 14-man squad for the three-match series versus hosts England this month, could make his Test debut after an impressive regional four-day season.

The Jamaican began his first-class career in 2010 and even played two Twenty20 (T20) matches — with minimal impact — for West Indies between 2011 and 2012 before his latest breakthrough.

“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,” he told journalists.

The Professional Cricket League (PCL) franchise system, introduced since the 2014-15 campaign, offers more matches per season via a return to a home-and-away format in the four-day competition.

He said it has influenced his growth.

“The PCL has done a lot of good for me. It has taught me a lot of pain and enjoyment as well. You would have failed, you would have performed and you would have seen where you've gone wrong and what you need to improve. That would have prepared me to battle the best around the world,” he explained.

In the last regional four-day championship, Bonner scored two centuries while tallying 523 runs in 13 innings at an average of 58.11 for Jamaica Scorpions.

He drew admiration from cricket watchers around the region for the way he compiled his runs, showing composure, expertise and immense technique — at times in difficult batting conditions.

“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,” Bonner said.

“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,” he added in reference to factors which could make him successful in England.

Bonner's T20 International debut came nine years ago in England, and though unwilling to reveal any specific goals for the Test series, he plans to use what he remembers to good effect if given the opportunity.

“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.

“My last experience [for West Indies] was in England, so I know the conditions a little. Going back from 2011 it hasn't changed much. Obviously, you have to play the ball late, that's the first thing. You have to be a little bit more patient and try to rotate the strike as much as possible. I think those would be key,” he said.

The West Indies tour to England was originally set to run from May to June but was postponed due to the spread of the novel coronovirus, which causes the COVID-19 disease.

The three rescheduled Test matches are to be played behind closed doors in biosecure facilities, to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus which has caused approximately 44,000 deaths in the United Kingdom and over half a million globally.

The visiting contingent, in England since June 9, comprises the frontline squad and 11 reserves to allow for internal preparation matches and to ensure replacements are readily available in case of injury or sickness.

The first Test at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton is set to begin on Wednesday. The teams are to contest the second and third matches at Old Trafford, starting July 16 and 24, respectively. Both Test venues have hotels on site.

West Indies, captained by Holder, are defending the Wisden Trophy after stunning the Englishmen 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.

However, England, the world number four rated Test side, enter the series as favourites against eighth-ranked West Indies. England have not lost at home to West Indies since 1988.

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


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