Author: Keith Holder
Date Submitted: 2014-05-18
Keywords: Kemar Roach, Corey Collymore, Vasbert Drakes, Ottis Gibson
Region & WICB News - Bridgetown, Barbados, May 18 - (www.bcacricket.org) - After returning to competitive cricket on Saturday for the first time in seven months following a shoulder injury which led to surgery, key Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach is now eagerly looking forward to resuming his international career in the three-match Test series against New Zealand next month.
Roach, 25, turned out for his beloved club CGI Maple against BRC BCL at Blenheim 'A' in the fifth and final preliminary series of the BCA Sagicor General T20 championship and impressed with the new ball in a winning cause.
Bowling genuinely quick, he took one wicket for ten runs off four overs on the trot as BCL were bundled out for 77 in 20 overs - the lowest total of the series - before two-time champions Maple triumphed by eight wickets with as many as nine overs to spare to top Zone 'B' with a maximum 20 points.
"I am glad to be back on the field playing for Maple and I am looking forward to representing the West Indies again as soon as possible with my focus on the Test series against New Zealand in a few weeks," Roach told BCAcricket.org in an exclusive interview.
He is in a 20-man West Indies squad preparing for the series with a camp at the 3Ws Oval here from May 22 to June 2. The first Test against the Black Caps is in Jamaica beginning June 8.
Roach, who has 85 wickets at 27.71 runs apiece in 23 Tests since his debut in 2009, said he was happy with his performance on Saturday.
He had Davon Goodman caught at the wicket off the glove by captain Collis Worrell from a ball which gained extra bounce as the batsman fended. Goodman, 19, had slammed a swashbuckling century in the previous series against school team Caribbean Alliance Insurance/Akobah Gardens Foundation at Church Hill, lashing 115 off 49 balls.
"I hit some good areas and the pace was definitely up. I was able to contribute in a positive way for Maple," Roach said.
"I spoke with the captain and he said he had a plan. He asked me if I wanted to bowl four overs in succession and I told him I wouldn't mind to get the body working again. The pace is still there but I am not a hundred percent yet. I think the more I bowl, the better I will become.
"I have really missed playing. Seven months out of cricket is a long time and now I am at the point where I can play again, I want to be able to represent Maple, Barbados and West Indies.
"I am very confident that once I get some more sessions in and some strength work, I will be raring to go for the first Test against New Zealand, if selected."
Roach pointed out that following sessions at Kensington Oval from the middle of April with BCA coach Vasbert Drakes, as well as West Indies team coach Ottis Gibson - both former Barbados and West Indies pacers - he stepped up practice recently at Trents, the home ground of Maple, with assistance from another former Barbados and West Indies fast bowler Corey Collymore, who is also a Maple player. Yet another former Barbados and West Indies seamer, Henderson Bryan, is the Maple coach.
"I was working with Vasbert and also had some sessions with Ottis. I was in the gym earlier in the year and then the bowling aspect of it started in April. It was basic stuff as in the rotation of the arm and the fundamentals of fast bowling," Roach explained.
"I practised with Maple the entire week before the game on Saturday. I was working with Corey and he helped me to get my technique back and some basic stuff about bowling.
"Corey watched me bowl on Saturday. He gave me some pointers on what he thought about my bowling and he told me about a few flaws that can be worked on in the next couple of weeks. It was a happy atmosphere and a very relaxed environment."
Ironically, the last time Roach played a competitive match prior to Saturday was for Maple in the final of the same Sagicor General T20 tournament against Sagicor Life UWI at Kensington last October 13 when he injured his shoulder in the field after bowling only one over.
He then travelled with the West Indies to Florida for a one-week Elite team visit before a tour of India, but was forced to return home in the second week of November following the first Test for "ongoing management and subsequent physical rehabilitation."
West Indies team physiotherapist CJ Clarke had described Roach's injury as "uncommon among cricketers".
It led to an operation in Jamaica on November 22 before he started training again last month.
"I had three months of strenuous therapy with Dr. Jacqueline King and Marita Marshall. It was tough because the shoulder was very weak but they did a great job along with (trainer) Shannon Lashley in getting me back strong again," Roach asserted.
"After a surgery like this it is not going to be a hundred percent but I am definitely fit enough to play any length of cricket, whether it be a Test, four-day, one-day or a T20 match," said Roach, who has also played 61 One-Day International and 11 T20 International matches.
With the remainder of the Sagicor General T20 tournament clashing with the West Indies camp, Roach said he would still be keen on representing Maple depending on how the West Indies team management felt.
"I will speak with the manager and coach and they will direct me in the right way. I like playing for Maple. They are a good bunch of guys and I enjoy playing and helping my club win."
Maple are the reigning BCA Elite division champions and were losing finalists in both the 2013 Sagicor General T20 and Super Cup tournaments.
Roach had a scare on April 19 when he sustained a head wound after his BMW sedan crashed on a slippery road near Wanstead Drive.
"It did set me back slightly. I had to take a week-and-a-half off to get my mind straight again," he said.
Now he is ready to show his mettle in the international arena again and reckons West Indies can capture the Test series against New Zealand.
"After our Test series against New Zealand in New Zealand in December when we were beaten 2-0, I think this one is going to be very intense because the last time they came to the Caribbean two years ago we won both Tests. With a new captain in Denesh Ramdin, I think the guys can put in some good performances and win this series," Roach said.