Kemar Roach, West Indies’ bowling hero on an extraordinary second day in Barbados, claimed to have felt in better rhythm in previous performances, but rarely has he produced the goods in quite such dramatic fashion, as he ripped through England’s first-innings batting to put his side on course for a famous victory at Bridgetown.
Roach claimed all five of his wickets for four runs in a 27-ball spell after lunch, as England collapsed from 30 for 1 to 77 all out – a stunning turnaround in fortunes after James Anderson’s own five-wicket haul had seemingly kept England right in contention when West Indies were bowled out for 289.
But with the bit between his teeth, Roach routed England’s batting before West Indies’ batsmen overcame a wobble of their own to reach the close on 127 for 6, a priceless lead of 339 on a pitch that is clearly starting to offer plenty for the quicks.
“A lead of 300 is good going into the third day,” Roach said at the close, “but the pitch has toughened up a little bit for the batsmen, so we just need to put runs on the board.
“It’s a bit jumpy, a bit uneven, some balls are keeping a bit low,” he added. “I think the aim is just to make the batsmen play as much as possible, and obviously we can create a few chances.”
A feature of Roach’s spell was his relentless full length, allied to a spiteful short ball that did for Moeen Ali in particular, as he was caught on the long-leg boundary for a first-ball duck.
“Yes, you can go fuller [on this pitch] and bring them forward, that’s most important, and create some chances,” said Roach. “And put the batsmen under a lot of pressure.
“I’ve felt better in the past, but today the ball came out of my hand pretty well,” he added. “I was pretty happy with how I felt. Eight overs on the trot was a bit tough, the heat was pretty hot, but I was ready to go for the team.”
Roach’s fiery performance came after a switch of ends. Following a tight but less threatening opening burst from the Malcolm Marshall End, he returned at the Joel Garner end to dislodge Rory Burns in his first over after the break and open the floodgates.
“I gave Shannon Gabriel preference,” Roach explained. “He’s in good form and I wanted him to be as comfortable as possible and I’m okay to go from any end, but in the second innings I took it back and did my job. I’m happy with my performance today, and to restrict the English to as low as possible and give ourselves a big lead.”
After rattling through England’s batting in the space of 30.2 overs, Roach admitted a serious consideration had been given to enforcing the follow-on. However, discretion may prove the better part of valour in the long run.
“The aim is not to bad last on this pitch,” he said. “It’s a tough one, and 400 runs on the board is going to be tough for the English. Bowl in the right areas, that’s the plan going forward.”
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.