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Kemar Roach — Throwback to West Indian pacers of old

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Kemar Roach © Getty Images

At a time when searing West Indian pace bowlers were a thing of the past, Kemar Roach’s emergence had brought back fond memories of the time when Caribbean speedsters used to make the batsmen dance. Roach has come a long way since his debut, and recently grabbed his 100th Test match wicket. Shiamak Unwalla has more.

Kemar Roach is not the average express fast bowler. He does not loom over batsmen. At merely 5 ft 8 inches, he couldn’t even if he wanted to. He does not stare deeply into the soul of the batsman on his follow-through. He is much too mild-mannered for that. A couple of offences in 2009-10 including a run-in with Jacques Kallis seem mere aberrations.

However, what Roach does possess, is speed — Pure, unadulterated and terrifying. He is quick enough to have caused Ricky Ponting severe discomfort. In the six Tests that they played against each other, Roach has dismissed Ponting five times. In fact, between Jerome Taylor and Roach, Ponting has found life very difficult against the West Indies — just three fifties in 13 games featuring either one of the two speaks volumes of the former Australian great’s uneasiness against the pair.

The best example of Roach’s pace was seen in the first One-Day International (ODI) between West Indies and Zimbabwe in their bilateral series in 2009/10. Vusi Sibanda, batting on 95, was bowled by a Roach yorker. This in itself was not special, but how the dismissal occurred made it unique. Sibanda jammed his bat down. The ball then proceeded to go on its way, splitting the batsman’s bat into two before knocking the stumps. Sibanda was stunned, Roach was ecstatic, and the cricketing world was treated to a true “bat-crushing” yorker, the likes of which is rarely seen.

Another instance of Roach’s pace being far too hot for the batsmen to handle came in the ICC World Cup 2011 against the Netherlands in Delhi, where he took four wickets in six balls, including a hat-trick, to rout the Netherlands en route to figures of 6 for 27.

Roach has a very impressive record in his short career so far. In 61 ODIs, he has taken 94 wickets at an enviable average of under 27 and a strike rate of less than 33. An economy of merely 4.92 runs per over is the cherry on the cake. His Test record is equally impressive. He already has 100 scalps in his 26th game (he has taken eight wickets so far in the ongoing match between West Indies and New Zealand), with an average of around 28 and strike rate of close to 53.

Roach is celebrating his 26th birthday today. In the ongoing Test match against New Zealand,Roach has four wickets in each innings, and will be looking to add to his tally as well as restrict the opposition to as low a total as is possible. If he manages to do so, and if Chris Gayle unleashes his brand of cricket on the Kiwis, there could well be an interesting final day’s play on the cards.

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with Cricket Country. He is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and Cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating food. Sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on twitter at @ShiamakUnwalla)

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