I’m a huge fan of Ben Stokes: The West Indian fast bowler eulogized about the stand-in opposition captain ahead of the first Test in Southampton.
West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach admits that facing an English side without regular captain Joe Root will both have advantages and disadvantages for them as international cricket is set to resume on the back of the first Test for the Wisden Trophy tomorrow.
“A Test match without [Joe] Root, the fantastic stats he has, is going to be a bit of an advantage for us. He’s one that keeps the England batting together, he’s done fantastically for them for the last couple of years,” Roach said via a Zoom press conference.
While Roach is expected to be talking about Root’s reputation, numbers suggest that the English captain has been a bit below par in the couple of years.
In the 23 Tests that Root has played in the given period, he has scored 1,639 runs at an average of 38.11 (career average of 48.40) and a strike rate of 51.80 including four centuries and eight half-centuries. In three Tests against West Indies in the last two years, Root’s 177 runs have come at 29.50.
Root and Jonny Bairstow’s absence means that England’s top four will comprise of Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly. While Burns and Denly have played three and two Tests against West Indies respectively, Sibley and Crawley will face the visitors for the first time.
Apart from Sibley and Crawley, batsman Ollie Pope also hasn’t played a Test against West Indies. Roach referred to not playing against the aforementioned names as a disadvantage as it might take time for the West Indian bowlers to find weaknesses during the first Test.
“Without him [Root] it is a bit of an advantage for us, but also a little bit of a disadvantage because there’s some new guys coming in that we obviously have to work out and see what their weaknesses are and try to exploit them.
“So, it goes 50-50, but once we get stuck in and hit our straps and put the balls in the right area I think we stand a very good chance of going out there and performing well,” Roach said.
“I’m a huge fan of Ben Stokes…”
With all-rounder Ben Stokes set to lead England for the first time, Roach didn’t shy away from eulogizing the stand-in opposition captain and hoped to face a “free and relaxed” English unit in Southampton on July 8.
“I’m a huge fan of Ben Stokes. He’s a fantastic cricketer. He’s very energetic, brings a lot of energy to the field and a lot of confidence when he bats or when he bowls, so I’m expecting a very free and relaxed England team to come out there and express themselves because that’s the way he plays.
“It’s interesting to see him captain, obviously it’s the first time we’re going to see it, but I’m sure that with him at the head, they’re in good hands as well, so I wish him all the best,” Roach added.
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The presence of Roach, Shannon Gabriel, Jason Holder and Alzarri Joseph forms a formidable bowling quartet for the visiting side. However, it is their batting department which has allured a few concerns of late. Roach, meanwhile, expressed confidence in their batsmen hoping them to “get the job done”.
“They’re trying their best to get going in the series. I think they’ve made some strides. They’ve had some discussions, I’ve been told, and I’m confident in the guys. Their work ethic has been spot on and they’ve done everything to put themselves in a good head space and perform in this series.
“I’m confident in them. I’m sure they can go out there and get the job done so I’ll just sit back and watch them bat. Hopefully someone can get a couple hundreds in this series and we can take it to the English,” Roach concluded.