Roach berates “horrible” Antigua pitch; pleads for livelier conditions in Barbados

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Report and Photography by Akeem Greene in Barbados

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All told, 416.3 overs, 1,182 runs, and 30 wickets was what West Indies and England got out of the pitch at the Sir Vivian Richards Ground in Antigua, venue for the first Apex Test, which ended in a battling draw at the weekend.

Four batsmen- England trio Johnny Bairstow, Zack Crawley and Joe Root and West Indian Nkrumah Bonner- helped themselves to centuries, as no bowler got a five-for. Young West Indies speedster Jayden Seales had the best innings figures with 4-79 from 22 overs.

When England visited in 2019, and West Indies regained the Wisden Trophy (now renamed the Richards/Botham Trophy), the pitches were a great factor in the pace barrage they unleashed on the visitors.

With a hammering in Barbados then a clinical victory in Antigua, West Indies had the series sealed in two Tests.

The pacers have been made to work even harder this time around, and will little support from the pitch.

Kemar Roach and teammates celebrate a wicket in the first Test in Antigua

West Indies’ spearhead Kemar Roach lamented the flat deck they were served in the first Test and is not too optimistic better will be provided in the second Test, which starts Wednesday in his hometown Barbados.

“The pitch in Antigua was horrible”, Roach told reporters at the Oval on Monday afternoon.

“I think we need to have a discussion about where we are going as a team and an organisation when it comes to these pitches. The Barbados pitch, I have not had a good look as yet, but it is similar, very similar to the one in Antigua.”

Roach, who is seventh on the charts for the leading wicket-takers for West Indies in Test cricket, further conveyed, “As a fast bowler, it is not heartening, it is very depressing, but you still have a job to do for your team…I would like to see more grass on the pitch, I can’t emphasise that enough.”

The blunt comments by the 33-year-old is nothing new as regards the discussion surrounding the quality of pitches in the region, as the criticisms are well documented.

A closer look at the Kensington Oval pitch on Monday afternoon (Photo: News Room/Akeem Greene/March 14, 2022)

CONFIDENT OF VICTORY

Mastermind in 2019 with 18 wickets at 13.88, the Barbadian is backing the team to win this series and regain the prized trophy.

Since January 1930, England has played 16 Tests at the Oval and only won thrice, the last victory coming in April 2004. That same year is the only time the English have secured series success in the Caribbean in 50 years.

To keep such a cherished and boastful history intact, Roach is adamant West Indies need to work hard.

“I think we have to work hard and keep in mind that is history for West Indies cricket and I think we have enough in the camp to keep that tradition going. I think we can win this series, I am very sure we can win this series and I don’t see anything stopping us.”

West Indies are expected to have a full house to see if Roach’s predictions materialise as Kensington Oval is tipped to be a hive of activity for the second Apex Test match.

The historic venue will now be able to operate at full capacity, the first for an international cricket match in the Caribbean since the pandemic started in early 2020.

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