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Kemar Roach is enjoying his return to West Indies’ Test side. After 11 wickets at 29.81 in his comeback series against England, Roach has responded well to the need to alter his lines and lengths on the slower and drier pitches in Bulawayo as West Indies’ senior seamer. His control with the ball was vital to their success in the first Test, and he was equally disciplined in picking up 3 for 44 in the first innings of the second match.
“England obviously has much easier conditions for fast bowling,” Roach said. “Coming here is much harder. You have to be patient and hope the batsman makes a mistake. It’s pretty tough on the mind to be running in for a couple of overs and not beat the bat or cause any problems for the batsmen.”
The road back to Test cricket was a long one for Roach. Sidelined by an ankle injury during the Centurion Test in December 2014, he lost pace and penetration and was left out of the home Tests against India last year. His 23 wickets in the 2016-17 edition of West Indies’ domestic four-day competition prompted a recall, and now Roach is making up for lost time.
“I’ve been working hard in the nets with Roddy Estwick, I think I’m in some good form now and I’m trying to realise that form as much as possible,” Roach said. “I’m not getting any younger now so I’m trying to get as many wickets as I can while I’m in form.
“We had Curtly Ambrose as one of our bowling coaches a few months ago, and he always emphasises a good length and line. I’ve lost some pace, yes, but it’s about using more skill. I’ve been trying to adjust to become better at that.”
Without the pace of old, Roach has been putting some of his newfound skills to good use in Zimbabwe. His use of the crease, delivering the ball from unlikely angles, presentation of the seam and a canny slower ball have all brought success. So has his consistency. “The pitch is very slow and there isn’t much carry, so it’s about being consistent and bowling in the right areas with some variations,” Roach explained.
West Indies trailed Zimbabwe by 248 runs after the second day of the second Test in Bulawayo, but Roach backed his team’s batsmen to solidify their strong position. “There are a lot of runs in that wicket,” he said. “The new ball hasn’t been doing much, no major bounce or seam movement. I think once the guys settle and put their heads down to bat, I think we’ll be fine.”
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo