Roach-Ponting duel promises much
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS - The duel between Kemar Roach and Ricky Ponting will be one of the highlights of the upcoming three-match Test series between West Indies and Australia.
As the regional side look for a first series win against the visitors in 20 years, most eyes will be fixed on what is sure to be an exciting contest between the pacy Roach, and Ponting, who is regarded as one of the best batsmen of all time.
The last time these two met, during the West Indies tour of Australia in 2009, Roach peppered the former Australian captain with short-pitched deliveries, forcing him to retire hurt in the third and final Test after he was struck on the elbow.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is one of those who will be looking forward to the battle, although he insists that not only Roach will be keen to take the field at Kensington Oval Saturday.
“I remember Ponting making some comments some time ago about helping to launch Kemar’s career,” Gibson said.
“I think we have at least three or four guys who will be looking forward to this series. Everybody is looking forward to getting stuck in, and the exciting thing is that it means that there is competition for places and that brings the kind of environment which we are trying to create.
“I’m sure that Kemar, if he gets the opportunity on Saturday morning first up with the new ball in his hand, will be looking forward to it. Likewise, I’m sure Ricky will be looking to get back at Kemar.”
Another key aspect of the series which Gibson will be looking forward to is the performances of Narsingh Deonarine, the middle order batsman and part-time off-break bowler.
He said that Deonarine, the leading batsman in this year’s WICB Regional 4-Day Tournament with 582 runs at an average of 44.76, and 20 wickets at 16.9 apiece, would play an important role in the absence of Marlon Samuels, who is playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Gibson noted, however, that fitness would be a key factor in deciding how far the 28-year-old Guyanese would go.
“He is someone that we need right now. We are not able to have Marlon in the team right now, and he is sort of a like-for-like replacement for Marlon, whereas he can bat and he can bowl a little off spin.
“With regards to his fitness, it is an ongoing process for him and it is something that he has to keep on top of. He will know that if eventually he doesn’t make the necessary adjustments in terms of fitness, then the team will move on, as all great teams do, without him,” Gibson said.
Meanwhile, chairman of selectors Clyde Butts said the selection panel decided to keep faith with most of the members of the squad which performed well on the West Indies overseas tours to Bangladesh and India late last year.
“As selectors, we felt the team did a very good job in the One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s under the leadership of Darren Sammy, and we expect them to continue to show that same kind of fight and determination in the longer format,” he said.
“It is never easy, and we know the Aussies will come hard at us, but we believe we have selected a squad that can do the job and make the people of Caribbean proud.”