The absence of Joe Root’s leadership for England in the first Test against the West Indies might result in the hosts playing in a free and relaxed manner, much like the characteristics of stand in captain Ben Stokes, feels West Indies fast bowler Kemar Roach.
Roach, who admitted to be a huge fan of the talismanic all rounder, also said that he looks forward to the contest of the two all-round captains. Stokes’ opposite number, Jason Holder is currently on top of the rankings of all-rounders in Test cricket, while Stokes is placed second on the list.
Roach, during an online video conference yesterday, said, “He’s (Stokes) a fantastic cricketer. He’s very energetic, brings a lot of energy to the field and a lot of confidence when he bats or when he bowls, so I’m expecting a very free and relaxed England team to come out there and express themselves because that’s the way he plays. It’s interesting to see him captain, obviously it’s the first time we’re going to see it, but I’m sure that with him at the head, they’re in good hands as well, so I wish him all the best.”
On the contest between the two all rounders, Roach said, “It’s always good to have challenges, it’s always good to have battles, it brings out the best in you. I hope he (Holder) and Ben Stokes go at it in a couple of Test matches here. They’re both fantastic cricketers and I’m sure that once they’re battling it will be great cricket to watch.”
Although the absence of Root has tilted the advantage towards the West Indies, now that there are players unknown to the West Indies camp emerging in the England set up, Roach feels that the situation is 50-50. He said, “A Test match without Root, the fantastic stats he has, is going to be a bit of an advantage for us. He’s one that keeps the England batting together, he’s done fantastically for them for the last couple of years. Without him it is a bit of an advantage for us, but also a little bit of a disadvantage because there’s some new guys coming in that we obviously have to work out and see what their weaknesses are and try to exploit them. So it goes 50-50, but once we get stuck in and hit our straps and put the balls in the right area I think we stand a very good chance of going out there and performing well.”
The series is set to be played in a bio-secure environment with no crowd allowed at the venues, and Roach said it’ll be a strange experience for West Indies. He said, “It’s going to be weird for us, playing in England where there’s always a lot of crowd noise. It’s going to be weird for us to play here with no one around and in basic silence. Some music, someone could sing, that would be great! I’m looking forward to that, hopefully it comes off.”
Having been in a bio-bubble since their arrival in England in early June, Roach said it has been challenging for the team but there’s no other option considering the COVID-19 situation around the world. He said, “It is a little bit of mental drain. Not being out, turn off the switch for a bit, have a coffee, or go to the mall and do some shopping. It is tough but it’s something new and we have to get accustomed to it. Corona seems to be around for a bit so…it can be a bit challenging but it also gives you an advantage to focus on cricket a little bit harder.”