Mayers looks forward to bowling more for Windies

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Mayers looks forward to bowling more for Windies
Kyle Mayers has produced with the bat for West Indies and wants to do the same with the ball. (FP)

NORTH SOUND – An ankle injury two years ago sidelined Kyle Mayers from cricket for a few months and a few things about his game changed.

Before that injury, Mayers, 28, was a genuine all-rounder. He could hit the ball fiercely and he was good enough to collect 72 wickets at 22.66 in 34 first-class matches, mostly for Windward Islands Volcanoes in the West Indies Championship.

On his return from the injury, his batting became his strength, earning a place in the West Indies team and a double hundred on Test debut, but restoring the fitness and confidence to his bowling has taken time.

He signalled that me may well and truly recovered from that injury setback, when Windies captain Kraigg Brathwaite handed him the ball in the first half-hour after tea on the third day of the first Test against Sri Lanka in Antigua and he produced a bit of magic.

Bowling his medium-fast seamers, Mayers broke a worrying stand between Oshada Fernando and Lahiru Thirimanne that had set the highest second wicket stand on the ground of 162.

Mayers had Fernando caught behind for 91, playing forward to his first delivery, and dismissed Dinesh Chandimal in similar fashion for four in his next over to bring West Indies back to life in the contest.

“I knew within myself that I am capable of taking wickets and the team had backed me from the previous series on the Tour of Bangladesh,” Mayers told CWI Media in a post-play interview.

“I did not get any wickets there, but the guys always said I had the skill and ability to do it. The captain asked me to do a job and I just came, and I tried my best.”

He said: “I always wanted to get the first wicket. The guys were pressuring me back in the dressing room earlier. Jermaine Blackwood was saying he has more Test wickets than me and I needed to get on the board. It was he, who actually called it.

“When I got the ball, he said, ‘Kyle, there are two wickets here for you.’ I just backed myself. The moving was moving around nicely, and I used it to my advantage, and it worked out well.”

Mayers said he stills feels that he can contribute more with the ball for the Windies, but there already four pacers in the line-up for this Test, so he welcomed the opportunity to make something happen.

“I started out my career as a bowling all-rounder but given the fact that the team has four fast bowlers in this line-up, opportunities are going to be limited, he said. “Any time I get the chance to bowl, I will be willing to put my best foot forward.

“After the first wicket, my confidence was obviously up in the air. I thought I had the ability to get more wickets, given the opportunity, and it worked out nicely. The skipper gave me a few overs and I did the job for him.”

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons was happy that Mayers played such a crucial role with the ball.

“He can do that,” Simmons said. “He came on and put the ball in the right area from the first ball, as we saw from the first wicket he took.

“He has the ability to come on and bowl a few tidy overs. The skipper only needed for him to come and get the breakthrough, and then he went back to his frontline bowlers, which was the correct thing to do. But (Kyle) came on and showed he can come on and get a wicket or two for us.”

Simmons was disappointed, however, with the general approach from his side’s bowling attack throughout the day.

The Sri Lankans finished the day on 255 for four in their second innings – leading by 153 – and Simmons felt they got runs too easily.

“It was a difficult day,” he said. “The two guys batted well for them, but I also think we did not show enough discipline, enough consistency in the way we bowled. At times, they got runs too easily.

“I think when you look at the scorecard over the first two days, it was about 2.3 the scoring rate. In this innings, it has been 3.1 or 3.2, from that aspect, I think we let it slip. They batted well, so you have to give them credit.”

Mayers said the plan for the fourth day is to keep things as tight as possible and try to minimise Sri Lanka’s lead – and Simmons concurred.

“I think we have to come out and get early wickets,” Simmons said. “I think the first hour is always the critical period in any day’s play in Test matches.

“We have to come out firing. We have to come out and limit them to as little as possible because the pitch seems to be batting-friendly right now.”