With Roger Harper now history, adaptability is the new West Indies selection watchword. No more specialists, new lead selector Desmond Haynes has said. Show me your motion and I’ll find the right band for you.
Already, Shamarh Brooks and Kyle Mayers have got a look-in in the white ball set-up. John Campbell back in the red ball line-up. So what’s next?
A white ball recall for Nkrumah Bonner after ten years? Not to be ruled out! He can play the attacking game, remember; he just chooses not to these days.
That was on my mind as I made my fo’day morning way to Bobby’s house on Monday.
“Have you ever,” I greet him, “seen a Larry Gomes video anywhere on YouTube?”
He was more than a little taken aback.
Bobby: “A propos of what?”
“All over YouTube,” I explain, “you find Viv Richards hitting across the line, roughing up the best bowling the 70s and 80s had to offer. And Alvin Kallicharan advantaging Dennis Lillee. And (Gordon) Greenidge and Haynes beating leather off the cork ball.”
Me: “I think Gomes is the role model Bonner has chosen for himself. Without apologies. Mr Dependable.”
Bobby: You might be right. I watched him bat Saturday…”
Me: “I watched both innings. Without him…”
Bobby: “…sure cutarse!”
Me: “Yeah. Four batsmen made centuries in the match; the three Englishmen reached three figures in under 200 balls. Bonner needed 257.
“He ended up with 123 off 355 balls. After more than nine hours! But guess who was the Man-of-the-Match?”
Bobby: “Well, that’s really because of the second innings. When WI was in trouble again, he and Jason Holder put on 80-something, I think.”
Me: “Exactly 80. His contribution was 38 off 138 balls. In 178 minutes!
“Did you know that his first Senior Team pick was in 2011? On the T20 side? He was a middle-order batsman who bowled leg-spin, He made 27 runs off 38 balls in two innings, I think.”
Bobby: “I didn’t know. That explains it ‘Thank you. Bye’. West Indies don’t give people chance to grow. I’m not sure [Ramnaresh] Sarwan and [Devendra] Bishoo are really good examples but I feel we never really got all they had to offer.”
Me: “Well, Blackwood cyar complain! I don’t know if he have to send in ah application to get drop!”
Bobby: “Don’t start! Not again!”
We laugh heartily. But I am not amused. I will never understand on what grounds the 30-year-old was promoted to Test vice-captain. Don’t you have first to earn your place in the XI? Or is a one-eye man being king in blind man country?
Me: “Lemme just say this: I once read a report that Blackwood had had a conversation with Virat Kohli and that that had helped his batting. We’re still waiting for hard evidence…
“I’ve never heard anything about Bonner having a conversation with Cheteshwar Pujara. But I feel they talked after the 34-year-old Indian middle-order batsman took 174 balls for his half-century against Australia in 2020.”
More laughter. Bobby gets my drift.
“And I feel Bonner was sitting in front of his television admiring and applauding when last year January, Pujara took nearly 200 balls to crawl to 50.”
Bobby: “Bonner seriously impress you, bro?”
Me: “Yeah. Seriously! But it’s more than just his batting.
“I like his attitude to reviews. I wonder if he has ever unsuccessfully reviewed an umpiring decision. Every time he opted to review, it was because he knew the umpire had erred. That is a refreshing change from batsmen who ritually—and selfishly!—review because they hope the umpire has erred.
“Secondly. he doesn’t sport a heavy gold chain, now the standing symbol of West Indian cricketing success.
“And not just the ones who play for WI, eh! Look at Chris Jordan and Jofra Archer, two Bajan émigrés.”
Bobby: “I don’t really pay that much attention.”
Me: “After the Test match Saturday, he told Ian Bishop that he’s ‘versatile, I adapt to the situation.’
“He said he always wanted to play Test cricket and over the years he set out to bat long.
“Over the years? In 2019/20, seven whole years after he get drop from the T20 side, he make over 500 runs for Jamaica in the regional Four-day Competition. And all the big boys pull outta the Bangladesh tour, remember, and give him a second chance at international cricket. Man, he grab it with both hands.
“I don’t have the exact Bangladesh figures but I know they speak for themselves.”
Back home, as I check, on WACK Radio 90.1fm, Kitchener is crooning ‘The Bees Melody’: Woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo woo. Buh bonn bonn bonn bonn bonn bonn bonn bonn…
I read: 0 off 4, 29 off 25, 31 off 66 in the ODIs and 17 off 59, 86 off 245, 90 off 209, 38 off 120 in the Tests.
And this: Bonner has so far batted for 2883 minutes in Test cricket, faced 2116 balls, totalled 738 runs with 80 fours and just three sixes.
So I have a mission for him; he looks confident enough to accept it.
If and when he is back in the white ball line-up, he has to give his ‘WI-are-a-six-hitting-team’ teammates the message.
Even if you hit five times as many sixes as the other team, if your final total is less than theirs, you lose, they win.