Kemar Roach set his sights on yet more success after the fast bowler became just the ninth West Indian – and first since 1994 – to take 200 Test wickets.
Barbados fast bowler Roach reached the landmark when he had England’s Chris Woakes playing-on during the second day of the third Test at Old Trafford on Saturday.
Despite Roach’s eventual return of 4/72, England still made 369 in their first innings, thanks mainly to tailender Stuart Broad’s dashing 62.
And at stumps, the West Indies had slumped to 137/6, a deficit of 232 runs, to give England the edge in the deciding match of a three-Test series currently all square at 1-1.
But the 32-year-old Roach was understandably proud of his achievement in becoming the first West Indies bowler since Curtly Ambrose 26 years ago to take 200 Test wickets.
“I guess I had that landmark on my mind a little bit too much, I had a few restless nights,” Roach, who amazingly went wicketless when the West Indies beat England in the opening match of this series, told the BBC.
“It’s good to get past that barrier now and see how many more I can get. 300 would be great. I’ll work hard to get there and we’ll see how many I can go past 300,” added Roach, now in his 59th Test following a debut in 2009.
Roach was initially an express quick, capable of 90 mph bouncers. But his career started to take a different direction in 2014 when he was involved in a car crash in Barbados after suffering shoulder and ankle injuries either side of that incident.
Struggling to regain speed, Roach became increasingly expensive and was dropped by the West Indies for 18 months.
But he was recalled for the last tour of England three years ago, and since then he has become an effective performer, with his use of the crease and greater movement through the air and off the seam compensating for a decline in raw speed.
Since 2017, he has taken 79 wickets in 22 Tests at a miserly average of under 23 apiece.
But whereas the likes of Ambrose found themselves operating on helpful home surfaces in attacks featuring fellow great fast bowlers such as Malcolm Marshall and Courtney Walsh, Roach has had nothing like the same quality of support at a time when Caribbean pitches increasingly favouring spin.
Another sign of changing times is that when the West Indies last won a Test at Old Trafford 32 years ago, in a crushing innings and 156-run success that featured Marshall’s second-innings 7/22, they had a four-man pace attack while England fielded two spinners.
Fast forward to 2020 and roles are reversed, with England fielding a seam bowling quartet of James Anderson, Broad, Jofra Archer and Woakes, while the West Indies play two spinners in Rahkeem Cornwall and Roston Chase.
At stumps on Saturday both Anderson and Broad, with over 1,000 Test wickets between them, had each taken 2/17. And whereas the West Indies once enjoyed an enviable depth of seam bowling, England now have the likes of Mark Wood and Sam Curran waiting in the wings.
“I think what you want to try and avoid is four seamers that all do exactly the same thing,” said Broad. “Whereas this seam attack really does have a difference in line of attack, seam and swing and wobble.”
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