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Bonner, Holder hold off England; Brathwaite praises 1st innings centurion after drawn Test

Nkrumah Bonner pulled the 48th ball he received in the West Indies’ second innings of the First Apex Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound today to the midwicket boundary for four. That took his team, chasing an unlikely 286 off 71 overs to beat Joe Root’s England, to 77 for 4 and his own individual score to five.

At the other end was Jason Holder on 37 off 101 balls. And when the England captain agreed to call off the game with five balls remaining in the day’s play, WI were on 147 for 4—still 139 runs adrift of their target. And Holder (37* off 101, 3 x 4) and Bonner (38* off 138, 8 x 4) were still together, their fifth-wicket partnership worth 80.

Photo: West Indies batsmen Jason Holder (third from left) and Nkrumah Bonner embrace at the end of the First Test in Antigua on 12 March 2022.
(Copyright SkySports)

Bonner said WI have ‘got a lot to take from this game. Obviously we wanted to win but we’re happy with the draw’.

“When I was young,” he revealed, “I always wanted to played Test cricket, and over the years I set out to bat long. I’m versatile, I adapt to the situation.”

It is arguably that ability to adapt to the situation that helped produce a result which looked very doubtful on Day One with England on 48 for 4 before lunch. And again today with WI on 67 for 4 when Jermaine Blackwood had a not untypical hoo-ha at a delivery from Jack Leach and missed. The umpire deemed it headed for his leg stump.

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Things might also have turned out differently if, at 89 for 4 some 14 overs later, umpire Joel Wilson had thought the same about a delivery from the same bowler that cannoned into Holder’s left pad.

Not convinced of its trajectory, Root opted not to use his one remaining review. But Wilson was wrong; the ball would have hit leg stump.

Photo: England bowler Jack Leach (centre) in action against the West Indies during the First Test on 12 March 2022.
(Copyright Getty Images)

And so Holder and Bonner soldiered on, their partnership occupying just under 36 overs, full 12 of which were maidens.

Leach had been given the new ball and was eventually asked to send down 30 of 70 overs in the innings, 17 more than the big-hearted Ben Stokes, second best with 13. But it was Stokes who eventually got the initial breakthrough in the 26th over, serving upn a ball the stubborn skipper Brathwaite (33 off 82, 3 x 4) could not keep off his pads.

Just two overs later, Brathwaite’s opening partner, John Campbell (22 off 73), who never looked comfortable against Leach, tried to hit him over mid-on. The tall Craig Overton was in the way.

When Leach added the scalps of Shamarh Brooks and Blackwood, things might easily have gone south for the home side. Despite Root’s frequent bowling changes at one end and often smothering fields, Bonner’s levelheadedness, Holder’s straight bat—and the technology!—denied the visitors.

Photo: Surrounded by waiting catchers, West Indies batsman Jason Holder defies England during the final day of the First Test in Antigua on 12 March 2022.
(Copyright Getty Images)

The failed chase had been set up by enterprising batting from the England top order and a fairly generous declaration by their skipper. His record second-wicket partnership with Zak Crawley (121 off 216, 16 x 4) had been truncated in the day’s fourth over. Holder found a way past the opener’s flashing blade which had seen him to his second Test century on Day Four.

But that brought to the wicket Dan Lawrence, who stroked a brisk run-a-ball 37, while Root moved steadily towards his 24th Test century. When he steered Alzarri Joseph to cover and completed a single, that added a first 2022 ton to the six he scored in 2021. It was, however, his first made batting at number 3 for some time.

The pair put on 70 in just 11 overs before Joseph claimed both within 15 runs of each other. First he knocked back Root’s leg stump with a vicious inswinger and then he had Lawrence offer a simple catch to Veerasammy Permaul at backward point.

Stokes (13 off 13) and first innings century maker Bairstow (15* off 21) are known destroyers of indifferent bowling but neither could get on top of the West Indian attack on the day. So, intent on having a go at the WI’s openers before the lunch interval, Root called a halt at 349 for 6.

Photo: England captain Joe Root (left) congratulates Zak Crawley on his century against the West Indies on 11 March 2022.
(Copyright Getty Images)

But the unhelpful wicket, dodgy umpiring, transparent tactics when the quicks had the ball in hand and steely West Indian resolve combined to see the game end eventually in a not entirely uninteresting stalemate.

England captain Joe Root said he was “really proud of the team today. From that first hour, we were in a tricky spot, the skill level we’ve shown. To not panic, get ourselves back in the game, and throughout the game we got better and better.”’

Describing the century makers Bairstow and Crawley as ‘magnificent’, he praised their ‘maturity’ (Bairstow) and ‘character’ (Crawley) and said he was looking forward to “another brilliant Test.”

WI skipper Brathwaite said the game was “hard fought, all five days. Hard work and we showed we had some fight at the end. Great effort from the bowling group and our batters, as well.”

Brathwaite singled out the Man-of-the-Match for special praise, saying, “I think he’s better than me. Before the game, he told me 300 balls, that’s the determination. He set the example in the first innings and today he came again and showed his worth.”

Photo: West Indies middle-order century maker Nkrumah Bonner.
(Copyright Getty Images)

Others will have to show their worth in next week’s Second Test in Barbados if the West Indies are not to fall behind in the three-match series.

(SUMMARISED SCORES)

Toss: England

England 1st Inns: 311 all out (100.3 overs) (Jonny Bairstow 140, Ben Foakes 42, Ben Stokes 36; Jayden Seales 22-6-79-4, Kemar Roach 21-3-86-2, Jason Holder 21-11-24-2, Alzarri Joseph 20.3-2-70-2) & 2nd Inns: 349 for 6 dec. (88.2 overs) (Zak Crawley 121, Joe Root 109; Alzarri Joseph 3/78, Kemar Roach 2/53, Jason Holder 1/56)

West Indies 1st Inns: 375 all out (157. overs) (Nkrumah Bonner 123, Kraigg Brathwaite 55, Jason Holder 45, John Campbell 35; Ben Stokes 2/42, Jack Leach 2/79, Craig Overton 2/85, Dan Lawrence 2-2-0-1) & 2nd Inns: 147 for 4 (70.1 overs) (Nkrumah Bonner 38*, Jason Holder 37*, Kraigg Brathwaite 33, Jack Leach 30.1-14-57-3, Ben Stokes 13-3-24-1)

Man-of-the-Match: Nkrumah Bonner

Result: Match drawn

Three-match series level at 0-0

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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