Kemar Roach calls on West Indies to ‘ruin’ James Anderson’s retirement Test

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Kemar Roach believes that James Anderson will be remembered as “one of the greatest” fast bowlers in history when he retires from international cricket this summer – but has challenged his West Indies team-mates to “ruin” Anderson’s final Test match by beating England at Lord’s in July.

With Shamar Joseph and Alzarri Joseph also at their disposal, West Indies will have one of their strongest seam attacks in years when they face England in three Tests from July 10-30, and are targeting a first away series win against them since 1988. It is a target that Roach feels is achievable, not least with the potential distraction of Anderson’s farewell at Lord’s.

“It’s a very highly talented and skilful group,” Roach said at the Kia Oval on Monday. “We’ve not had the best of times over here in England, so it’s more about focusing on us – not what they’re going to do for him. He’s going to get what he deserves. But it’s all about us working hard to get what we deserve, which is a series win over here in England.”

Roach and Anderson have played against one another in 12 Tests dating back to 2012. “He’s a great fast bowler, probably one of the greatest,” Roach said. “It’s sad to see him go, but we all know you can’t play forever. He’s done fantastically for England and he deserves whatever he gets.”

Anderson confirmed on Saturday that the Lord’s Test will be his last. “First Test match against us… hopefully, we ruin it,” Roach said, laughing. “He’s highly respected. He’s always given me great advice as well. He will go down as one of the greatest to ever do it. I wish him all the best after that Test match, and hopefully he enjoys whatever comes next.”

Roach believes that West Indies’ seam attack is among the best he has played in. “With Shamar and Jayden Seales now – Alzarri as well – they have added a lot of X-factor to the bowling unit. On any given day, they can have a great spell and be devastating. That is what you want. You just want it as consistently as possible, to have those great days.

“To have three guys like that in the team, a captain to have that to select, for any given day or any given surface [is great]. As a group, we are pretty confident. England is always our biggest series… We want to put up a good fight, put on a good show. We haven’t won a Test series in England for quite a while so it is good to come with some confidence, and hopefully we can do it this time.”

Roach turns 36 next month but his devastating spell for Surrey on Sunday evening proved that he remains a potent wicket-taking threat, 15 years into his Test career. He has spent the past two weeks working hard on his “balance at the crease” with bowling coach Jade Dernbach, and found prodigious reverse-swing to dismantle Warwickshire’s batting line-up.

“I felt good,” he said. “It’s been a tough couple of weeks for me, trying to work on some things, but it’s always good to get rewards for some hard work. As a fast bowler, you always want to see the stumps flying around. I’m building with Surrey. [I want to] get myself in good physical shape, the right mental space, and then when it gets to the West Indies tour, I will build on that.

“I have no retirement time in sight. I think I can go as long as I want, but obviously it’s all on performances. The older you get, you need to have performances to stay in the team. I’ve been doing well, but I just want to keep helping the youngsters so they’re in a good space, mentally and physically. I’ll be happy to see those guys going after me and breaking those records if they have to.”

Roach has two more games remaining in his fourth stint at Surrey, at home to Worcestershire and away at Hampshire, and has helped them secure an early lead at the top of the table in their bid for a third successive Championship title. “To get that win, moving us further up the top of the table, is a fantastic feeling,” he said. “Let’s continue the hard work, finish off and hopefully go for that trophy.”

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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