High expectation

Cricket

High expectation

Roach has faith in Windies batting as first Test looms

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

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PACER Kemar Roach says he has faith that the West Indies batting will come good in England, despite their recent challenges and the hosts' vaunted pace attack.

England's 13-member squad for the first match includes plenty of fast bowling options, plus variety in the off spin of Dominic Bess.

Acclaimed swing and seam bowlers James Anderson and Stuart Broad, who have taken 584 and 485 Test wickets, respectively, are obvious threats.

Speedsters Mark Wood and Barbadian-born Jofra Archer, both regularly clocked at over 150 kilometres per hour, are among the fastest in the world, while all-rounder Ben Stokes, who will captain England in the opening Test, and Chris Woakes, are additional seam options.

The three-Test series, to be played without on-site spectators, is set to get underway tomorrow at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

Over the years the West Indies batting unit has flattered to deceive, and in the two intra-squad practice matches some of that unpredictability was on show as the bowlers largely held sway.

“They are trying their best to get going in the series. I'm confident in the guys; their work ethic has been spot on and they've done everything to put themselves in a good mental space to perform in this series,” Roach said during a press conference from the team's base at the match venue.

“I'm sure they can go out there and get the job done, so I'll just sit back and watch them bat. Hopefully, someone can get a couple of hundreds and we can take it to the English,” the 32-year-old pacer told journalists.

On the West Indies' 2017 visit to England — where they lost the Test series 1-2 — middle order batsman Shai Hope stood out with 375 runs in six innings at an average of 75. During the their memorable five-wicket victory at Headingley, Hope became the first player to score two hundreds — 147 and 118 not out — in a first class match at the venue.

In the same match, West Indies opener Kraigg Brathwaite fell just short of following in his teammate's footsteps, notching scores of 134 and 95. He ended the tour with 283 runs at a healthy 47.16, while middle order batsman Jermaine Blackwood averaged 37.4 with a top score of 79 not out.

All three are members of the current front line squad of 15 players.

The main squad is complemented by 10 reserve players, providing sufficient depth for internal preparation contests since traditional practice games against county sides are prohibited on this tour due to concerns about the novel coronavirus which causes the COVID-19 disease.

West Indies had been based at Old Trafford in Manchester since June 9 before travelling to Southampton on Friday.

Roach said training sessions and the two warm-up encounters at Old Trafford have put them in good stead.

“We had a pretty long camp in Manchester; we got a chance to get on the field and get some match practice as well,” he said.

“We had two matches — a little bit rain-affected — but I think I bowled a fair [number] of overs to get myself ready for this series,” the veteran added.

Once fit, Roach, who has taken 193 wickets in 56 Tests at 27.13 since his debut in 2009, is a straightforward pick for West Indies.

Three years ago he topped the bowling charts for the visiting team with 11 wickets at an average of 29.81.

The guileful bowler was even better in the Caribbean last year as West Indies stunned England 2-1 to reclaim the Wisden Trophy. He again led the team, taking 18 wickets at 13.88.

He acknowledged that a loss in pace, largely caused by injuries he sustained over the years, has contributed to him becoming more consistent and versatile as a bowler.

“I've worked on my skills a little bit more, and my consistency. My numbers are there and I want to keep improving on those numbers as well. The work is still to be done; you learn every day, so I'm still trying to master my craft,” Roach explained.

He said that as a senior member of the set-up he is willing to teach the less experienced bowlers.

“When it comes to the younger guys, I try to help them; that's all I can do. I try to build a great relationship with them, keep it all fun and friendly, and obviously learn in the process,” he said.

The series will be contested behind closed doors in biosecure facilities to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus.

The second and third Test matches are to be staged in Manchester, starting July 16 and 24, respectively. Both The Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford have hotels on site.

Squads:

England — Ben Stokes (captain), James Anderson, Jofra Archer, Dominic Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Ollie Pope, Dom Sibley, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

West Indies — Jason Holder (captain), Kraigg Brathwaite, John Campbell, Shamarh Brooks, Shai Hope, Jermaine Blackwood, Roston Chase, Shane Dowrich, Rahkeem Cornwall, Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph, Chemar Holder, Nkrumah Bonner, Raymon Reifer


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