West Indies coach Phil Simmons expects a fired-up Kemar Roach for the third and decisive Test against England after the pace bowler finally broke a long drought.

Roach ended the second Test with overall figures of 4 for 95 but that did not tell the full story.  Prior to that, the pace bowler, despite crafting excellent, economic spells, had failed to claim a wicket for the entire first Test. In fact, Roach’s dismissal of Ben Stokes ended a wicket drought going back to August 31, 2019, and lasting 521 deliveries, or 86.5 overs.

It was a strange for the fast bowler, who starred for the West Indies team the last time the team’s met in the Caribbean, where he claimed 13 wickets, with one five and two four-wicket hauls.  Now that he has got the monkey off his back, however, Simmons expects more wickets to come, which would be good news for the Windies.

“It’s great to see him getting wickets, it’s been a while since I have seen him bowl so well and not get wickets,” Simmons told members of the media on Sunday.

“I’m glad he is back in the wickets that will just fuel his fire for the next Test match.”

The West Indies will play England in the decisive Test, at Old Trafford, beginning on Friday.

West Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks has admitted it was crucial for the team to bat as long as possible, as the battle for the second Test raged on, during the fourth day on Sunday.

Chasing a sizeable 469 and with one day rained out, the Windies needed at least 270 to ensure England did at least bat again.  A battling knock of 68 from 137 balls by Brooks went on a long way in ensuring the team got to 287, on the back of a devastating new-ball spell from England pace bowler Stuart Broad.

Brooks also featured in two key partnerships.  He paired with opener Kraigg Brathwaite for 76 runs and with middle-order batsman Roston Chase for 43.  With England back at crease, 219 runs ahead, but two wickets down thanks to impressive late evening bowling by Kemar Roach, all eyes will be focused on how many runs the team will feel is needed to feel comfortable before putting the West Indies back in to bat.

“Yesterday being rained out we knew it was a crucial day lost in this Test match.  We knew the situation was just having to come today and bat for as long as possible,” Brooks told members of the media, via a Zoom press conference, at the end of the day’s play.

“Yes, it is England's game and we knew that saving the follow-on was important but the more time that we batted today is the harder it made it for England to get a result out of this game,” he added.

 

West Indies all-rounder, Roston Chase, insists he will be ready to go when needed again, after a stern examination of his fitness levels bowling against England on Friday.

The spinner bowled some 44 overs but was rewarded after claiming figures of 5 for 172, his second big wicket haul against England.  Against England in the Caribbean last year, Chase claimed eight wickets.  The hard miles put into the bowling effort has, however, had a telling effect on the all-rounder.

“I can tell you right now my shoulder is very, very sore. It’s very tight as well. I was actually just getting a massage before coming to this press conference,” Chase told members of the media via a Zoom press conference, at the end of play on Friday.

Chase’s role for the team isn’t over by a long shot, as the player is likely to be called on to contribute with the bat as well.  In the first Test, a four-wicket win for the West Indies, Chase played a crucial role in steadying the team in both innings.  Coming in at four in the first innings, the all-rounder made 47 but faced 142 balls.  In the second, he scored 37 runs but faced 88 balls.  The player insists that despite the soreness, he will be ready again when called upon to play what could be a crucial role for the team.

“It’s about managing your body and having the willpower and mindset to come back every day, you might have a little niggle or whatnot, but it’s just that mindset to come back and do it again.”

West Indies all-rounder Roston Chase has admitted he relishes the challenge of facing England, after another strong performance, on an otherwise difficult day.

Chase ended day two with another solid haul against the Englishmen, this time grabbing figures of 5 for 172, as England posted a sizeable 469 for 9 declared.  Chase, who has bowled 44 overs, accounted for the top three batsmen, which included Rory Burns, Dom Sibley, and Zak Crawley before accounting for Ollie Pope and Sam Curran.  The other wickets were claimed by Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Jason Holder.

The innings was the second big haul for the spinner, who also rattled the then visitors with an impressive 8 for 60 when the teams played in the Caribbean last year.

“It’s my second five-wicket haul, following up on the eight-wicket haul in Barbados.  I do tend to do well against them, even in 2017, even though England is not normally a place where spin bowlers dominate,” Chase told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

Chase was used sparingly in the 2017 series in England, when he again managed to pick up a few wickets.  The player, however, hopes for even more success.

“I still think I have to find a way to get more wickets.”

 

Windies vice skipper, Kraigg Brathwaite, maintains fast bowler Kemar Roach has been unlucky not to etch his name in the wickets taken column so far in the England series.

Roach was the undisputed star of the series, with the ball, when the West Indies defeated England 2-1 in the Caribbean last year.  Figures of 5 for 17, 4 for 52, and 4 for 48 routinely found a place on the scorecard for the pace bowler.

So far, in the current England series, Roach has caused a few uncomfortable moments for the England batsman but is yet to secure any kind of breakthrough.  The bowler has nonetheless enjoyed good spells.  In the first innings of the first Test, despite not claiming a wicket, Roach conceded just 41 runs in 19 overs for an economy rate of 2.15.  In the second, he went for 50 off 22 overs, an economy rate of 2.27.  On both occasions, the bowler was second to only Windies captain Jason Holder, in terms of economy rate.

In the second Test so far, Roach has bowled 20 overs with 5 maidens, while conceding 38 runs.  Brathwaite, however, backs the player to make a breakthrough soon.

“I think in the areas he bowled he was just a little bit unlucky (to not get a wicket).  Once he keeps up that pressure, I’m sure he will get wickets tomorrow (Friday),” Brathwaite said.

West Indies vice-captain Kraigg Brathwaite has been quick to dismiss assertions the team will have a significant advantage with three key bowlers missing from the England line-up.

Pace bowlers Jofra Archer, James Anderson, and Mark Wood are missing from the England team for the second Test, which could be seen to leave the hosts short on firepower.  While Anderson and Wood have been rested with a long summer of Test cricket ahead, Archer has been omitted after breaking the protocol by leaving the series’ bio-secure environment.

Even without the trio, however, Brathwaite believes England has plenty of bowling options to remain dangerous.

“I wouldn’t say we have an advantage, they still have plenty of world-class players.  There is still Broad, Curran, and Woakes, these guys do well, so it will still be challenging,” Brathwaite told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Thursday.

“I think it will be very challenging because they are all still world-class players,” he added.

In addition to the above-mentioned bowlers, England will also still have the service of all-rounder Ben Stokes with the ball.  Stokes claimed 6 wickets for England in the first Test, which ended in a four-wicket win for the West Indies.  Broad was omitted from the line-up for the first Test.

West Indies captain Jason Holder has insisted the team is determined to keep both feet firmly planted on the ground, despite the historic opportunity of winning its first Test series, in England, since 1988, looming on the horizon.

The Windies recorded a four-wicket win over England in the first Test, in Southampton, to take a 1-0 lead in the three-Test series last week.  Should they be able to muster an identical result at the end of the second Test, in Manchester, Holder’s team will not just successfully retain the Wisden Trophy but do something no West Indian team has done in 32 years.

The captain, who has been quick to put down references to the team as the best in a generation, was just as quick to dismiss any hints of premature adulation or celebration.

“The series is still wide open.  There are 10 days of cricket left.  It’s one day at a time for us, England is a very good cricket team.  They have some world-class players, so we have our work cut out for us to win another match,” Holder told members of the media via a Zoom conference call on Wednesday.

“We don’t get too far ahead of ourselves.  This group to me has done just a good job not only for this series but in the last couple of years in terms of our results,” he added.

“Winning the first Test match is just one piece of the puzzle.  We have two other games we have to play, and we don’t get ahead of ourselves.  It’s the last thing we want to do in terms of getting complacent and getting too far ahead.  We start fresh with 10 solid days of cricket.”

West Indies coach, Phil Simmons, has admitted that a smidge of disappointment in an otherwise satisfactory victory over England lay in the fact that none of his batsmen was able to reach triple digits.

Returning Windies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel secured a 9-wicket haul, with Jermaine Blackwood crafting a well-earned and crucial second innings knock of 95 as the team registered a 4 wicket win for a 1-0 series lead in Southampton last week. Blackwood, who faced 154 balls and anchored the regional team’s innings, seemed well on the way to securing a second Test century, but was caught by James Anderson off the bowling of stand-in captain Ben Stokes. In the first innings, Kraigg Brathwaite battled to 65, with Shane Dowrich getting 61.

For the second Test, Simmons, who insists the Windies will have no room for complacency, pointed out that the aim is to see similar scores transformed to centuries.

“The fact that we had two guys getting 60s and a couple of guys getting 40s it was disappointing to not go on to score 100s. I like to see 100s on my scorecard at the end of an innings,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom conference call on Tuesday.

“I think that is one of the areas we need to improve on. If one of the guys who had scored 60 went on to score 100, the game might have been easier for us at the end, so we have to make sure that batsmen score big 100s and take games away from the opposition,” he added.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons was quick to dismiss any suggestions that England underestimated the team heading into the first Test last week.

On the back of a responsible 95 from Windies batsman Jermaine Blackwood, and a 9-wicket haul from pace bowler Shannon Gabriel, the regional team claimed a 1-0 lead after a 4-wicket win in Southampton, on Sunday.  With the omission of veteran fast bowler Stuart Broad from the first Test, however, former England captain Nasser Hussain suggested the hosts may have underestimated the West Indies.  England instead, opted for a line-up that included Jofra Archer, Mark Wood and James Anderson.

 "Hats off to West Indies for a super performance, but I'd like to ask England one question. If this had been the first game of the Ashes, would they have left out Stuart Broad?" Hussain asked in his post-match analysis.

Simmons has, however, refuted any suggestions of underestimation.

“I don’t think so.  England is a professional unit and I would not expect that from them. I think they thought on the day they needed to bat first.  Maybe they looked at how the match would end, the wicket and how dry it was at the time,” Simmons told members of the media via a Zoom press conference.

“There are many factors why they could have batted first. I don’t want to speculate but I don’t think they took us for granted,” he added.

“I think there is a choice between five quality bowlers, so one had to sit out.  It came to Broad that day but there are three back-to-back Test matches and England has maybe five or six Test matches, so sometimes we think that’s the way we have to go.”

The West Indies and England have had competitive outings in the last two Test match series between the teams.  The West Indies also won a Test match, in England, in 2017, before claiming the Wisden Trophy with a 2-1 win over England in the Caribbean last year.

Windies batsman Jermaine Blackwood has leapt to the defense of Caribbean regional cricket, strongly disagreeing with those who disparage the competition.

For some, the West Indies' recent and consistent failure on the international stage, in recent years, is in large part due to regional players being unable to attain the competitive standard required for international cricket, after taking part in a substandard regional competition.

In several instances, players that have dominated the regional season have gone on to struggle against international opponents, once called up for the West Indies.  Blackwood, who heaped up 768 runs in 15 innings for Jamaica, including a double hundred against the Leeward Islands in the tournament's last match, however, has gone on to register a dominant performance against England.  He believes things are changing.

“To be honest I don’t pay too much attention to who is taking this or that, everyone has their opinion,” Blackwood told members of the media via a Zoom press conference on Tuesday.

“For me, personally, things are heading in the right direction in the Caribbean.  I think I put in a lot of work to score some runs in the regional 4-dayers and definitely you can see it in my body language and approach to Test cricket now.  So, it has helped me to become the player I am now, and you can see the growth in my batting.”

West Indies captain Jason Holder was full of praise for middle-order batsman Jermaine Blackwood, whose knock of 95 provided the foundation for the West Indies four-wicket win against England in the first Test of the #Raisethebat series on Sunday.

West Indies captain Jason Holder has moved up a place to the number-two spot in the Reliance ICC Test rankings for bowlers.

West Indies captain Jason Holder has hailed the outstanding efforts of returning pace bowler Shannon Gabriel, who formed the perfect partner in excoriating the England batting line-up, in the first Test at the Rose Bowl, on Thursday.

Holder claimed an impressive 6 for 42 and Gabriel 4 for 62, as England were dismissed for 204, in the first innings.  Gabriel’s performance is all the more impressive with the series being the player’s first competitive match since recovering from ankle surgery last year.

In truth, concerns regarding Gabriel’s overall match fitness had quickly evaporated when he removed England opener Dom Sibley and provided plenty of deliveries that teased the edge of the batsmen in the first session.  He went on to account for, Rory Burns, Sibley's opening partner, Joe Denly, and James Anderson at the bottom of the order.

“Shannon was outstanding.  He came in after not playing cricket for a while, coming back off injury.  He is one of those players we try to manage as best as we possibly can,” Holder said following the end of the day’s play.

“He is a strike force for us, he is a weapon.  I think we were able to use him in short bursts where he can run in and express himself.  To me his consistency was good, and he looked good.”

In reply, the West Indies were 57 for 1 at the end of play, with John Campbell the batsman dismissed, on 28, by Anderson.

 

West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has bemoaned the lack of an opportunity to be a part of the current Cricket West Indies (CWI) set-up in any type of capacity.

The 56-year-old Ambrose, one of the most revered bowlers in world cricket, previously served as the bowling consultant for the senior team.  He was, however, replaced by Roderick Estwick in 2016 and has not been involved with the program since.  According to the legendary pace bowler, however, it isn’t for a lack of trying.  Ambrose has since added to his coaching credentials, becoming one of 25 officials from the Caribbean and North America to attain Level Three coaching certification from a program organised by Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2018.

“Since I was sacked from the senior team back in 2016, I have done a few bits and pieces in-between, in terms of some coaching stints with a few fast bowlers, but not on a consistent basis,” Ambrose said in a recent interview on Antigua’s Good Morning Jojo radio show.

Coaching is, however, not the only job the former player has applied for.  He recently also threw his hat in the ring for a position on the selection panel.

“I figured whether it is coaching, being a selector, or whatever I could do to help West Indies Cricket go forward, I am always ready and willing to do so.  There was nothing to do to in terms of the coaching part of it, so I decided to put in for being a selector because I thought that I could help, because I am a very fair-minded person and I just want to see West Indies cricket get better," Ambrose said.

"They interviewed me, Jimmy Adams and the vice president (Dr. Kishore Shallow), for about an hour, and I didn't quite make it."

West Indies coach Phil Simmons has insisted the size of off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall has not been an issue, as he remains in contention to secure a place in the team for the upcoming tour of England.

Despite his success in regional cricket and solid performances for both West Indies A and West Indies squads, the player's physique has often drawn attention for looking different than the average cricketer.  Standing at 6 ft 5 inches tall, Cornwall weighs somewhere in the region of 308 pounds.

For a time, it was believed to be keeping the player from being selected to the regional squad, after a successful debut against India last year, however, the spinner's stock seems to be on the rise.  For the current tour of England, Cornwall could be in contention for a spot in the team as the primary or secondary spinner and the coach was quick to insist there are no concerns with his size or mobility.

“His size has not been an issue, if you see Rahkeem at slip and some of the catches that he takes at slip, there is no issue,” Simmons told members of the media in a Zoom press conference call on Monday.

“I think he is capable of bowling a lot of overs.  He has bowled an enormous amount of overs through the years for the Leeward Islands, West Indies A, and the West Indies team in our Test match against India.  So, none of it has been a hindrance to him.  He had a little knee injury and that has been fixed so now he is strong as ever,” he added.

On debut, against India, Cornwall claimed 3 wickets, before claiming 10 against Afghanistan in his second Test.

 

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