Better late than never
Estwick backs Bonner despite Test call-up at 31 years old
WINDIES ASSISTANT coach Roddy Estwick believes uncapped Nkrumah Bonner can still make an impact in the Test arena, despite his belated call-up at age 31.
The Jamaican batsman has been included in the 14-man Test squad to face England in next month’s three-Test series.
Estwick said Bonner had deserved his place in the squad and it was now up to the right-hander to leverage the opportunity handed him.
“He’s worked hard to get here. At 31, you look back at the number of players who made their Test careers in the 30s,” Estwick told reporters.
“… so we’re encouraging him and saying ‘look, all is not lost, you’ve been given a great opportunity, you’ve just got to continue to work hard, continue to stay disciplined and continue to do the things you’ve been doing for the last two years’.
“Over the last two years he’s averaged 40-odd – he averaged 50-odd this year – so obviously he’s in some kind of form.
“Some people tend to mature a little later and he seems to have done that, and at the moment in the nets we’re seeing a player who is willing to knuckle down and get accustomed to the conditions in England and obviously stake a claim for a Test play. “He’s got the opportunity and it’s up to him to grab it with both hands.”
Bonner played a couple of Twenty20 Internationals for the Windies eight years ago but was never considered for the longer format.
In the recent first-class season in the Caribbean, however, he carved out over 500 runs at an average of 58 with two hundreds for his native Jamaica Scorpions, to get the attention of selectors.
The previous season he was limited to just four innings but still managed two half-centuries and an average of 44.
Bonner is a product of the West Indies youth system, having represented the region at the ICC Under-19 World Cup in Malaysia.
Estwick said despite his age, it was important Bonner used his call-up to gain precious international experience.
“Bonner has been around for a while. He was in the [High Performance Centre] with Jason Holder back in 2012 or thereabouts,” Estwick explained.
“He had a very good first-class season … and obviously, the selectors are rewarding people who have done well, and Bonner has been given this opportunity and hopefully he can continue to work.
“He’s 31 but he still needs to gain experience and continue to work.”
Bonner is one of two uncapped players in the West Indies squad, with fast bowler Chemar Holder also named in the unit.
The Windies take on England in the first Test at the Ageas Bowl starting July 8. The second Test will be played at Old Trafford here in Manchester beginning July 16, with the third Test carded for the same venue eight days later.