Kemar Roach: 9 facts about the Bajan speedster

Kemar Roach at 5 feet 8 inches isn’t the fast bowler who will glare down the batsman or have a lot to say to you.

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Kemar Andre Jamal Roach, born June 30, 1988, is a West Indian fast bowler hailing from Barbados. Roach is a hope for West Indian cricket which once boasted of the best fast bowlers in the world. Roach at 5 feet 8 inches isn’t the fast bowler who will glare down the batsman or have a lot to say to you. He dismisses the myth of the relation between height and speed, and can clock menacing pace. He has 231 international wickets to him name. Suvajit Mustafi lists out nine facts about one of the most important players in the current West Indian line-up. 

1.  Starts with a beamer and a missed wicket opportunity: Roach played his first international game in his home ground in Barbados. It was a Twenty20 International (T20I) against Australia in 2008. A nervous Roach, who was only 19, bowled a nasty beamer in what was his first ball. His second ball was a sharp bouncer, which had Luke Ronchi beaten, but wicketkeeper Denesh Ramdin failed to hold on to a catch. He ended with figures of two for 29 from his three overs. 

2.  Test debut in an under-strength West Indies side: Due to payment disputes with the board, most of the senior members of the West Indian side opted out of the series against Bangladesh in 2009. West Indies lost the first Test at Kingston and went on to lose the series but Roach had an impressive debut where he picked six wickets. West Indian skipper Floyd Reifer praised him, saying “The first time I saw him as an under-19 bowler, I always thought he was going to play for West Indies. He does a lot, especially with the old ball, getting it to move in and out and he performed very well this morning, bowling decent lengths and lines.”

3.  When Ricky Ponting said, “He probably owes me a little bit”: You have to be special in order to trouble someone like Ponting. Roach, who was still new to international cricket found extra zeal in his steps at the sight of the Australian captain. In the third Test at Perth, a Roach thunderbolt struck Ponting’s arm forcing him to retire hurt for the first time in his career. When Ponting returned to bat later, Roach dismissed him straightaway. In six Tests, Roach has dismissed Ponting five times at a cost of 100 runs. In 2010, when the bowler earned a US$ 720,000 contract with Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Deccan Chargers, Ponting said, “He probably owes me a little bit.”

4.  Breaking Vusi Sibanda’s bat and cleaning him up on 95!

In the 2009-10 bilateral ODI series between West Indies and Zimbabwe, the world saw a glimpse of Roach’s raw pace. Zimbabwean batsman Vusi Sibanda was batting on 95, when he bowled by a Roach yorker. In attempt to prevent the same, the well-set Sibanda jammed his bat down but the ball didn’t change its path, as it broke his bat into two and crashed to the stumps. Sibanda had no option but to walk back, stunned.

5.  First West Indian to pick 10-wicket haul since 2005:  In April 2012, Roach picked up a 10-wicket haul in what was a man-of-the-match feat against Australia at Trinidad. He became the first time a Caribbean bowler to achieve the feat at Test level since Corey Collymore in 2005. Australian captain Michael Clarke was in full praise of the young bowler and said, “He’s a very good bowler. For 23, he’s a wonderful talent. He can swing the ball both ways, natural and reverse.”

6.  A Corey Collymore fan: Roach is expected to carry the tradition of Malcolm Marshall‘s and Curtly Ambrose‘s, but by his own admission he calls Collymore his favourite fast bowler of all-times. He also admires former English cricketer Alan Richardson, with whom he shared the ball during his stint with Worcestershire.

7.  Hat-trick against Netherlands: Roach unleashed himself against Netherlands in a World Cup 2011 game in Delhi. He picked four wickets in six balls – including a hat-trick as he went on to register figures of six for 27.

8.  Fined for deliberate physical contacts with Brett Lee: In terms of temperament, Roach is usually a mild character on the field. Fast bowling legend Michael Holding had once said about him, “I don’t see him talking to anyone on the field or sledging people. I think that is good. He has the ability to do what he has to do with the ball, and that’s enough talking.” But on this occasion in March 2012, Roach was found in the wrong end. He was fined 50 percent of his match fee for making deliberate physical contact with Brett Lee twice in the same over.

9.  Escaped a nasty crash: In April 2014, Roach escaped serious injury following a car accident in Barbados. His BMW sedan lost control due to slippery road conditions and flipped a few times. Roach sustained minor head injury but luckily escaped the crash which could have been fatal.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India’s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sportsmarketer , strategist, entrepreneur,  philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it’s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)

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