The pacer, who turned 24 three weeks ago, was sidelined with an injury since late May when he had to leave the tour of England early. He bounced back with a magical spell, which took out New Zealand’s top order as they were bowled out for 149 at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. Roach ended with the impressive figures of 17-7-34-4 on Saturday.
From the start of the match on Friday, he looked pumped up and bowled aggressively at the New Zealand top order. He produced a superb in swinger to get his 150th first-class wicket – Martin Guptill plumb in front LBW. Roach then ripped through the heart of the batting with two perfect out swingers which Brendon McCullum and Captain Ross Taylor edged to Shiv Chanderpaul at first slip. In his second spell he produced a fast bouncer which was too quick for Daniel Vettori. The veteran left-hander miscued a hook and Veerasammy Permaul took the catch at mid-on.
“I was happy with the way I bowled. I was away from the game for a little while so I wanted to get back into the groove and prove that I’m ready for the upcoming Test matches. While I was away I had therapy and fitness sessions and my body is feeling fit and ready for the challenges ahead,” he said.
“To get those early wickets and especially the leading batsmen in their team was a good return. It put them under pressure from the start and we maintained that grip. I got the ball to move both ways and that’s something I have been working hard to perfect. With these two games coming up next week and then the following week in Jamaica, I want to make it count big time.”
So far this year Roach has been the leading bowler for West Indies in Test cricket and among the top 10 wickets-taker around the world. This year he has taken 27 wickets in five Tests at an average of 24.03 runs each. His best performance was a memorable match haul of 10 for 146 against Australia on a docile pitch at Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad. Overall in his career, he has 70 wickets in 19 Tests at 29.31 runs apiece.
“The performance in Trinidad is sort of a benchmark for me. Obviously, it was the first ten-wicket and my best overall (haul) in Test cricket so that is something I will remember throughout the rest of my career. It came on a pitch that wasn’t really offering a lot to the fast bowlers so I had to dig deep and make it happen,” Roach added.
“It taught me a lot and the greatest lesson was how to work when the odds are against you. Some days the ball comes out and does exactly what you want. Other days you have to make it happen, so I’m prepared to make it happen.”
The first Digicel Test match starts on Wednesday at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground. First ball is 10 am (9 am Jamaica Time).
DIGICEL 2012 SERIES – New Zealand to West Indies
Digicel Test Series
July 25-29: 1st Digicel Test – Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground – 10 a.m.
August 2-6: 2nd Digicel Test – Sabina Park, Jamaica – 10 a.m.