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Barbadian batsman Mayers grateful for chance to grow as member of Windies squad

Jamaica Observer 2020-07-10 11:26:44

KYLE Mayers might not get to make his West Indies senior debut in the Test series against England, with so many within the large contingent ahead of him in the pecking order.

But the 27-year-old all-rounder, on his first tour of England, says the experience to be gained while rubbing shoulders with the region's elite cricketers in a high-intensity training environment will make the trip worthwhile.

“[I am] really enjoying it — really enjoy being around the Test squad and trying to learn as much as possible,” Mayers recently said during a virtual press conference.

The Barbadian, who had a stellar domestic four-day season with the bat, is among 10 reserves providing cover for the 15-man main squad for the three Test matches versus the Englishmen.

The Caribbean side arrived in England on June 9 for the series which is being contested in a biosecure environment to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

West Indies are currently locked in battle with the hosts in the first Test, which began Wednesday at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Central to their preparation for the series opener, West Indies staged two intra-squad contests since traditional practice games against county sides are prohibited on this tour due to concerns about the virus.

Mayers, who bats left-handed, indicated he is adapting well to the conditions in England which favour swing and seam movement. He hit 45 in the three-day game at Old Trafford in Manchester, followed by 74 not out in the four-day clash at the same venue.

The latter innings was particularly pleasing for Mayers because it came against a bowling unit which included front-line pacers Kemar Roach, Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph. Left-arm seamer Raymon Reifer, who claimed five first-innings wickets in the opening warm-up game, was also a member of the opposing team's attack.

“It was a good one [innings] for me, coming up against West Indies Test bowlers. I thought it was a good innings; I played my natural game… I just stuck to the basics and tried to be as positive as possible, and it worked out for me in the end,” he told journalists.

“The step from first-class level to Test level is a very, very big step. I think learning is a must, and very crucial at this level. From the time we reached [England] the intensity has been so high compared to first-class cricket — it was really different. At this level you need to take as much information as possible and try to work hard,” the former West Indies Under-19 player explained.

His form with the bat stretches back to last season's regional four-day tournament. He aggregated 654 runs in 15 innings at an average of 50.3. He struck two hundreds, including a best of 140, and five half-centuries.

Mayers, whose medium pace has provided him 71 wickets in 30 first-class matches at an impressive 21.54, hardly bowled during the campaign due to a side strain.

A silver lining accompanied that injury since it forced him to develop his batting.

“For me, the last first-class season was my breakthrough season. I've been working very hard on my batting. Obviously, coming back from injury I wasn't able to bowl much, so I've been practising very hard on my batting.

“Preparation was key for me — I thought that preparing for games and having a routine, and whatnot, made it possible for me to score runs in the last first-class season and also in the practice matches. I've been paying more attention to more throw-downs before the games… and just getting that good feeling from the ball leaving the bat,” Mayers said.

The second and third Test matches are scheduled for Old Trafford, starting July 16 and 24, respectively.

West Indies are defending the Wisden Trophy after stunning the Englishmen 2-1 last year in the Caribbean.

However, England, the world number four rated Test side, are favourites against eighth-ranked West Indies. England have not lost at home to West Indies since 1988.