Standing at just 1.72m, Kemar Roach is not your typical West Indian fast bowler. However, what he lacks in height, he makes up for with a tight action and a fast arm that allows him to break the 90mph barrier regularly. Roach is an attacking, wicket-taking bowler – nobody has taken more five-wicket hauls in Tests for West Indies since he came into the side in 2009.
Roach’s Test career began with a bang when he was selected against Bangladesh in St Vincent. In a losing cause, Roach bowled with pace and hostility, picking up three wickets in each innings. His stock would rise even more in the next Test, in Grenada, where he picked up six wickets in the first innings, ripping out Bangladesh’s middle order before blowing away the tail.
Despite becoming known primarily for his skills in the Test arena, Roach had already featured in West Indies’ ODI and T20I side before his debut Test. He was selected in West Indies’ 2011 World Cup squad in the subcontinent, a tournament he finished as his side’s leading wicket-taker with 13, including a hat-trick against Netherlands in Delhi.
Roach would play in a second World Cup in 2015 but, by then, injuries had begun to take their toll and he picked up just one wicket in three matches Down Under. Roach’s pace was down – just 82mph on average – owing to an ankle injury he sustained in a 2014 Test against South Africa at Centurion and he was lacking the zip that had made him so effective in the early part of his career.
After touring Australia in 2015-16 where Roach was wicketless in all three Tests, he faced a period out of the team and attempted to revive his career in the domestic game. He impressed the selectors sufficiently to be recalled 18 months later for West Indies’ tour of England in 2017 and repaid their faith by picking up 11 wickets in three matches, the second most in the series behind James Anderson’s 19. His series culminated with a five-wicket haul at Lord’s that well and truly announced that Kemar Roach was back in business.