Following his five wicket haul in England’s first innings at Lord’s, Windies’ fast bowler Kemar Roach admitted he had had doubts that he would ever return to his best in Test cricket after a severe shoulder injury had reduced his pace and poor form had ruled him out of Test action for 18 months.
Before this series, Roach’s last Test had been in January 2016 against Australia in Sydney. Since then, poor form had kept him out of the side and although he has returned to Windies’ team down on pace from the tearaway who burst on to the international scene in 2009, he is a far more experienced and consistent bowler now. He has bowled excellently throughout the three Tests of this tour and had been unlucky to have picked up just six wickets before this game as his reward. His spell of 5-72 here from 24 overs, including an unbroken spell of 12.3 overs after lunch, was finally some recognition for his efforts.
Roach suffered the shoulder injury in 2014 but the severity of the injury was such that it has taken until now for him to feel comfortable in his action again and for his fitness to fully return. “I had some doubts,” Roach said after play today. “It was a pretty tough time, breaking your shoulder is not easy and a lot of hard rehab got me back here. I’m proud of myself to come back and still perform for the West Indies.”
At 29, and with 39 Tests behind him, Roach is very much a senior player in this young Windies team and is comfortable with his own game after a strong domestic season for Barbados. “I’ve learnt my art a little bit more, I’m more experienced,” he said. “I played for Worcestershire a few years ago. It was a good experience. I’ve been talking to past players like Corey Collymore, guys that have played here. Coming here I was well prepared, knowing how to bowl on certain pitches and the length that would be crucial.”
Roach’s five wickets means he is just the eighth West Indian bowler to appear on the famous Lord’s honours board. He joins an illustrious list which includes Andy Roberts and Michael Holding. “It means a lot,” Roach said. “A lot of players went before me – Courtney Walsh, Malcolm Marshall – and to be a part of that is an amazing feeling. A lot of players have played here and to be a part of that board, its history, is special for me.”
With just a 22 run lead and already three wickets down, Windies will have to bat well tomorrow but Roach expressed his confidence that the tourists could post England a challenging fourth innings target. “We are here to fight,” he said. “We had it in our minds to come here and win. We will definitely be trying to do that. There are things we need to brush up on but all in all, a young side coming to England, they’ve put up a hell of a fight and we want to keep fighting in the second innings.”
Windies will do so full of belief following their brilliant win at Headingley. “It’s a big confidence boost,” admitted Roach. “After the first Test was a tough time being thrashed like that but to come back so strong, beating England at home for the first time in 17 years, it’s an amazing feeling to be part of history and the guys are very confident. We definitely hope to do it again in this Test match.”