(Reuters) – A marathon century by Nkrumah Bonner helped West Indies to a 62-run lead with a wicket in hand after day three of the first test against England in Antigua yesterday.
The Jamaican, at the age of 33 playing only his 10th test, displayed the utmost care and patience as West Indies crept 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 stumps for 123, his highest test innings on a day when only 171 runs were scored at an average of less than two an over.
His 355-ball knock included 12 fours and one six, and he was finally dismissed caught behind off part-time bowler Dan Lawrence, who drew a faint 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 field with an elbow injury early after sending down only five overs in the morning.
While a draw is probably the most likely outcome on a dead pitch, Bonner’s performance reduced the likelihood of a West Indies defeat in a match still very much in the balance.
“It means a lot,” Bonner said.
“Today the team needed me and I’m happy I stepped forward. Obviously, we’re in a decent position.”
Earlier, he brought up his ton from 257 balls when he swept spinner Jack Leach for four.
It was an appropriate shot given the majority of his runs came behind square, and perhaps the weariness of such a long stay at the crease helped explain Bonner’s muted celebration.
He merely glanced briefly towards the heavens before hugging team mate Kemar Roach.
Bonner’s previous test century came on the same ground against Sri Lanka last March.
Bonner, dropped at slip off Leach when on 73, had a couple more lucky escapes after reaching his century.
He survived two lbw reviews off Leach and was given out lbw off Ben Stokes, but the decision was overturned when a review showed a thick inside edge.
Unusually, West Indies’ scoring pace got slower with every 50-run milestone, an indication that the pitch is getting more lifeless as the game wears on.
England captured only five wickets all day, unable to easily dislodge the tail on a pitch offering no assistance to the quicks.
Number nine Roach survived 89 balls before being run out for 15, while No. 10 Veerasammy Permaul was unbeaten on 26 at the close.
“Tomorrow we want to bat for at least an hour and put pressure on the England batsman,” Bonner said.