WELLINGTON, New Zealand – Senior West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach likes the look of a green Basin Reserve pitch and believes his side have their tails up ahead of the first Test against New Zealand starting on Friday.
New Zealand are favourites to win the opening match of the two-match series but Roach is predicting a good series, with his side taking confidence from their unexpected five-wicket win over England at Leeds earlier this year, despite losing the series 2-1.
“It gave us a greater sense of belief. The guys are now more confident in themselves. We can beat top teams,” the Barbadian told reporters ahead of Friday’s Test.
They had prepared well in Australia and they guys were confident and prepared for New Zealand conditions, he said.
“It’s similar conditions to England. We’ve been there a couple of months ago so I think the guys are pretty familiar with what it could be like.”
The Basin Reserve has its traditional green-looking wicket, and Roach said it looked like a good one to bowl on first.
The tourists will likely have a four-pronged pace attack with captain Jason Holder, Shannon Gabriel, Alzarri Joseph and Miguel Cummins coming into contention.
“Hopefully the guys can do the job,” Roach said.
The 29-year-old Roach only returned to international cricket during the summer against England, following an 18-month absence due to injury and loss of form.
He was outstanding against England in the seam-friendly conditions, and was good enough to pick up a five-wicket in the final Test at Lord’s.
Roach, who has taken 141 wickets in his 42 Tests and consistently bowled in the late 140 km/h range early in his career, said he was feeling increasingly more comfortable as a leader in the Caribbean side.
“It’s all about me setting the tone. Being the leader that I should be. Obviously putting the best foot forward for the team,” he explained.
“I am very confident about bowling right now, I’m feeling very good about myself … I’ve been able to stay fit for a longer period of time and that’s really good for me.”
West Indies will have the weight of history against them during the series as they have not won a series on New Zealand soil in 22 years.
However, the Caribbean side are full of confidence, having beaten minnows Zimbabwe 1-0 in a two-match series in Bulawayo earlier this month.
The win was the Caribbean side’s fourth in 11 matches over the last 12 months.