Simmons backs Roach, Hope to regain touch in second Test


Simmons backs Roach, Hope to regain touch in second Test

Thursday, July 16, 2020

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WEST INDIES Coach Phil Simmons is backing pace bowler Kemar Roach and batsman Shai Hope to regain their touch in the second Test against England which is scheduled to start today at Old Trafford.

From an individual perspective, the Barbadians — both key players for West Indies — had little to cheer about during the outstanding opening Test win for the Caribbean men.

The 26-year-old Hope could only muster 16 and nine in the four-wicket victory at The Ageas Bowl, caught at slip against the off spin of Dominic Bess in the first innings, and bowled by speedster Mark Wood in the second.

Roach, 32, though bowling with plenty effort and a fair amount of skill, and beating the bat on countless occasions, went wicketless in the match. He was 0-41 from 19 overs in the first innings and gave up 50 runs from 22 overs when England batted a second time.

Roach's fellow senior bowling partners Shannon Gabriel and Jason Holder, who both shouldered similar workloads, shared 16 wickets.

“I have no worry about their [Roach's and Hope's] form. They've worked hard, they've looked very good in the practice sessions [and] matches that we've had so I'm not worried about their form,” Simmons said during a virtual press conference on Tuesday from the team's base in Manchester.

“Roach bowled as well as he could have bowled without taking a wicket, especially on the third evening, so I'm not worried about the two players,” he reiterated.

Despite the head coach's vote of confidence, both players will be keen to shake off recent lean spells.

Hope, the stylish right hander, was a rare success story on the West Indies team's previous Test tour to England. That 2017 series, which the visitors lost 1-2, saw him scoring 375 in six innings at an outstanding average of 75.

Hope was the main star in West Indies' memorable five-wicket victory at Headingley, scoring 147 and 118 not out to become the first cricketer to record two hundreds in a first class match at the venue.

Since then he has been largely woeful in Tests, and his overall average has fallen to a modest 26.71 in 32 matches.

Against England in the Caribbean last year, when West Indies strode to a shocking 2-1 win, Hope was far from his best. He gathered only 119 runs in five innings at 23.8.

Roach, numbered among the finest in a long tradition of West Indies pacers and only seven wickets away from the 200 club, has not added to the tally in his last two Tests, dating back to the lone match against Afghanistan in India last year.

However, he has been West Indies' best bowler in the last two series against England, and in 57 Tests Roach's average stands at a commendable 27.61.

Three years ago in England, he led the visitors, capturing 11 wickets at 29.81. At home last year, the crafty bowler was even better, taking 18 wickets at 13.88.

The win in Southampton is the regional team's first in an opening Test away to higher-ranked opposition since beating South Africa by 128 runs in Port Elizabeth in 2007.

Though West Indies are holders of the Wisden Trophy after beating England last year, as the world's eighth-ranked team they entered the three-Test series with only an outside chance against the number four-rated Englishmen.

England have not lost a home Test series to West Indies since 1988.

The teams are booked for a third and final Test match, starting July 24, also at Old Trafford.

The series is being played in a biosecure environment to reduce the risk of transmitting the novel coronavirus. Both The Ageas Bowl and Old Trafford have hotels on site.

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