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Veteran Roach backs Windies to give England stiff challenge


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West Indies seamer Kemar Roach … believes the hosts can test England.

(CMC) – Fast bowler Kemar Roach believes despite being labelled “underdogs”, West Indies have what it takes to challenge England in the upcoming three-Test series in the region.

Roach is the oldest and most experienced member of the 13-man squad preparing for the series – which starts at Kensington Oval here next Wednesday.

The 30-year-old boasts an impressive record of 166 wickets in 50 Tests, putting him in the West Indies top 10 wicket-takers of all time.

“Looking ahead to the series, I’m feeling fit and ready. I’m confident I can do well and make an impact for the team,” the Barbadian said during the ongoing training camp here.

“We are the underdogs, we know that. But we were underdogs back in 2017 and we played some fantastic cricket to win at Leeds and show the world we have quality. We will prepare well, we will plan well, we will look to take our chances and look to challenge and win again.”

Roach was referring to the 2017 tour of England when West Indies suffered a crushing innings and 209-run defeat in the opening Test at Birmingham but bounced back to stun the hosts by five wickets at Headingley.

He, along with the Windies players entered camp on Thursday, and will ramp up their preparations over the weekend going into next week’s big event.

“I recently reached one of my goals in the last series…obviously to be among the top ten West Indian bowlers of all time in Test cricket was something special,” he noted.

“My next goal is to get 200 Test wickets and in doing so win some more games for West Indies. I will see how far I can go from there. I think I still have another three to four years in West Indies cricket, and I want to contribute to the team.”

The speedster has a very good record at Kensington Oval, managing 24 wickets in five Tests at the historic venue. His best match figures were eight for 116 against New Zealand in 2014.

Roach, who has been a key member of the Windies attack after returning to the squad in 2017 following a 19-month break due to injury and loss of form, said he was eagerly looking forward to performing in front his home fans.

“As a Bajan playing at Kensington Oval in front of your home people, is always a good feeling to perform well … it is very important at home, you know the conditions well,” he pointed out.

“Once you go there and be focussed and be mentally prepared, I think it will be a very good feeling to represent the West Indies in your homeland.”

He continued: “Seeing the names of past greats on the stands is an inspiration. Kensington is an historic place and a lot of great cricketers have played at the ground. It has been renovated from the old one but it is still a good feeling to go out there and see the Sir Garfield Sobers Pavilion, Greenidge and Haynes Stand, The Three Ws, Hall and Griffith or bowling at the Malcolm Marshall or Joel Garner Ends.”

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