Life has come to a full circle for Kemar Roach.
All the years back, in 2009, Roach made his debut on the Australian shore here in Brisbane at the iconic Gabba. His first wicket on the Australian shore? The great Ricky Ponting
Little did Roach know that it would be his only wicket in that Test. Since then, he’s gone seven innings in Australia wicketless out of 12 innings. And, ahead of this Test at the Gabba, Roach insisted that he had “moved on” from that clash.
But his grit and effervescence has not. If anything, it is intact, and some would even say that the fizz is more than ever now for Roach, who is now the senior pacer in the Windies dressing room. It is almost like he is the mentor of the entire bowling unit, like Splinter from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
West Indies had moments in the Adelaide Test, but that was that. It was just fleeting moments that almost provided comfort but nothing concrete. Nothing whatsoever to tell you that this Windies team were going to blow the lid out of the Australian batting unit.
When Roach walked out with the new ball in hand, even the commentators were basking in the past glory, but the 35-year-old knew that he wanted to “move on” and move on to fresher, green pastures.
Australia isn’t the best of places for anyone at Roach’s age to succeed, not against this crop of Australian batters, who eat up visiting bowling unit for fun at home, making the fullest use of the conditions.
Time and again, Roach has been about proving people wrong.
Visiting teams have had a similar plan for Steve Smith, trying to beat him on his shuffle and trap him right in front, but teams have rarely succeeded. Some have got it wrong, some wronger, and some terribly wrong that they have been forced to watch Smith as if something bad was happening in slow motion.
Roach, however, wasn’t going to watch Smith bat for long. He was all about that Windies’ lineage - quick, pacy, on the stumps - and thud. Smith’s shuffle was too far, and his pads were too straight to the stumps.
All the 34-year-old could do was walk the long walk, not even shaking his head. The plan had worked. The fish had been fished. Smith was no longer an invincible. His downfall was well-plotted.
Roach then moved swiftly on to his next target - Cameron Green. Green’s tendency to drive away from his body has resulted in far too many dismissals. 47% of his dismissals have been to the balls outside the off-stump line, and Roach targeted that area.
Seven balls later, he was successful yet again. Green drove the ball away from his body, resulting in a simple catch.
24/3 is an uncharted territory for Australia, especially in a home Test. If someone told you the score was this, your instinct would have been to guess the opponent would be India, South Africa or England, but not West Indies.
Curtly Ambrose might disagree with it from all the years back, but recently, the Windies have been a mere shadow of their yesteryear success. Travis Head tends to be shaky up front, going for all the runs on offer, but that has also resulted in him getting out in the most bizarre fashions.
This time around, Roach wasn’t on point. He was far away from it, but when your momentum and luck are at that level, even the worst of deliveries are converted into the most magical of dismissals.
In the first innings of a home Test (this century), this is only the second time that Australia have lost four wickets for less than 25 runs. 24/4, pure chaos.
Windies cricket have turned the clock back.
Curtly Ambrose Kemar Roach has done it.
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