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Kemar Roach

Roach, Simmons confident about chances against England

West Indies news

Star fast bowler Kemar Roach and coach Phil Simmons are confident about West Indies' chances in the upcoming Test series against England, scheduled to start on 8 July.

The last time the two teams faced off in a Test series, West Indies scorched England in the first couple of Tests to seal the series before conceding the final Test. That series win for West Indies at home came mainly on the back of strong bowling performances and they're now confident of posing troubles to the England batsmen in their backyard as well.

"Different conditions obviously to the Caribbean, the ball does a little bit more in England so we have to adjust our plans, obviously devise a great plan to go against the English batsmen but I don't think our mode of attack is going to change much," Roach told the media via video conference. "You saw it in the Caribbean and it's pretty fresh in our minds.

"It's always going to be tough to play in England but I think once you get stuck into them we stand a great chance of beating them. Our plan was always to make it tough for the England batsmen. I think we did that fantastically well. Once you can execute that again here, I don't see any reason why you can't cause trouble and get over the English batsmen."

Key to the bowling exploits of West Indies in that 2019 series, alongside Roach, was Shannon Gabriel, who is travelling with the squad as a reserve player at the moment. He could be drafted into the main squad closer to the start of the series based on his fitness levels as he is coming fresh off a knee injury.

"Shannon, as we know, has come back from injury, and being a senior member of the squad in the past, I think we would definitely have a look at him coming into the [squad] if he's up to that fitness level leading into the first Test," said Simmons.

Should Gabriel fail to make the cut, West Indies still have plenty of promising fast bowling talent to ensure England don't have it any easier. One candidate Roach is particularly excited about is the uncapped Chemar Holder, who at the age of 22 has 76 first-class wickets to his name from just 19 games.

"The future of West Indies fast bowling is obviously in good hands with him around," declared Roach.

Simmons too has high expectations from the young fast bowler. "His ability to hit the right length, he's got good pace, higher 80s [mph] and his all-round stamina and his ability to bowl long spells – I think that gives him a lot of pluses in being a fast bowler and someone who can spend a long time in the West Indies cricket team. He has a lot of attributes that would make him one of the greats of West Indies cricket in the future."

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has urged the West Indies batsmen to back the bowlers up with solid performances
West Indies coach Phil Simmons has urged the West Indies batsmen to back the bowlers up with solid performances

It is in the batting department that West Indies are less confident, especially in the absence of the likes of Shimron Hetmyer and Darren Bravo, who opted not to tour England on account of the pandemic.

"There's a lot of pressure on the batsmen to perform because the bowling unit have been carrying the Test team for a while now," Simmons said. "It's something that we have been on a lot, not to put extra pressure on, but we need to get that total of 400-450 in order to give this bowling unit - which I think is a top-class bowling unit, the fast bowlers especially. So we need to get that 400-50 on a regular basis in order to give ourselves a chance of winning Test matches."

"We understand the quality of these two individuals [Bravo and Hetmyer] and we know what we'll be missing. But in situations like this we have to work hard with the guys who are here and make sure that what we're doing is putting them in a position to fill those two shoes for the series. Hopefully whoever fills the shoes can go on and be as great as they want to be."

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