Nkrumah Bonner’s patient and gritty 123 shot helped the West Indies to a handy lead in the first innings of 62 runs with a wicket still in hand after England took an early lead on Thursday at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on the third day of the first Test match had gone.
Bonner, playing just his 10th Test at the age of 33, showed extreme care and patience as West Indies crawled to 373 for nine wickets in his first innings at Viv Richards Stadium.
After more than nine hours at the crease, Bonner was close to stumps for 123, his highest Test innings in a day that saw just 171 runs averaging less than two per over.
His 355-ball knock included 12 fours and a six, and he was eventually dismissed when he was caught behind part-time bowler Dan Lawrence, who pulled a weak 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 early with an elbow injury after downing just five overs in the morning.
While a tie is probably the most likely result on a dead field, Bonner’s performance reduced the West Indies’ chances of defeat in a game still in limbo.
Before that, he brought up his ton of 257 balls when he defeated spinner Jack Leach for four.
It was a reasonable shot as most of his runs landed behind the square and perhaps the fatigue from staying in the crease for so long helped explain Bonner’s muffled celebrations.
He only glanced at the sky briefly before hugging teammate Kemar Roach. Bonner’s previous test of the century took place on the same ground against Sri Lanka last March.
Bonner, who was deposed at Leach at 73, had a few more lucky escapes after reaching his century. He survived two lbw ratings ahead of Leach and received lbw from Ben Stokes, but the decision was overturned when one rating showed a thick inside edge.
Unusually, the West Indies’ scoring pace slowed with each 50-run milestone, an indication of the pitch becoming more and more lifeless as the game progressed. England took just five wickets all day and were unable to remove the stern on a pitch that offered no help to the Quicks.
Number 9 Roach survived 89 balls before going short of 15, while No. 10 Veerasammy Permaul ended up unbeaten on 26.