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Roach hails “amazing” campaign with Surrey


Roach hails “amazing” campaign with Surrey
Kemar Roach has been the pick of the West Indies bowlers so far. (FP)

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LONDON – Trusted West Indies seamer Kemar Roach has described his County Championship stint with Surrey as “amazing” and said he was excited about a return at some point in the future.

The 32-year-old snatched 22 wickets from four matches after joining the county last April, immediately following the Test series against Sri Lanka in the Caribbean.

On Sunday, he lowered the curtain on his time with Surrey with a nine-wicket match haul in a drawn contest with Middlesex at the Oval.

“It has been amazing. From Mr. (Alec) Stewart, the coaching staff, the players – everyone made it extremely comfortable for me here and I can’t say enough to thank them,” said Barbadian Roach, who has taken 214 wickets from 63 Tests.

“Hopefully, I can come back again, maybe this season or next season, but I’m definitely willing and able to come back and perform again for Surrey.

“And let’s try to win some games and obviously try to win the Championship.”

Roach had a slow start to his campaign with only three wickets in his first two games before bursting to life in his third outing against Hampshire with a 10-wicket match haul.

His career-best of eight for 40 in the second innings handed the hosts a massive innings and 289-run victory.

He missed the fixture against Leicestershire with a back complaint, and then watched as rain allowed only 68 overs against Somerset in which only Surrey batted.

He, however, chose the ideal moment to showcase his skill last weekend, carrying Surrey to the brink of victory with an excellent exhibition of seam bowling, snaring a four-wicket haul on Saturday and then a five-wicket haul 24 hours later.

Roach will now return to the Caribbean, where he is expected to feature prominently in the two-Test series against South Africa.

“It’s been great. I’m sorry I have to go, but international duties call, so it’s back to work again for West Indies,” Roach said.

Surrey started the final day on Sunday in the driver’s seat and converted their overnight second innings 135 without loss to 259 for two declared, setting Middlesex a challenging 290 for victory.

After reducing the visitors to 47 for two, things went flat for the seamers and Surrey quickly found themselves facing defeat in the final session, with Nick Gubbins leading the way with 124 and captain Peter Handscomb gathering 70 to combine for a third-wicket stand of 172.

Well placed at 219 for two, Middlesex were then thwarted by Roach, who removed both entrenched batsmen to claim four of the five wickets to fall and derail the run chase.

“Obviously, it was a brave decision to declare before lunch and try to win a first-class game,” Roach said.

“I thought the plans were very simple – let’s go for 10 wickets to win a game – but obviously the ball didn’t do as much as it did in the first innings, and we found it pretty hard to get going.

“But kudos to Middlesex – Gubbins and Handscomb played really well and put us under pressure, but I think the guys held their nerve and we came out with a draw, and that’s a win for the situation we were in.”

He added: “I was surprised [the ball didn’t swing]. It was overcast conditions and the ball was shined up very nicely, but it just didn’t do anything. The pitch was kind of slow too, it was easy to bat on and we found it tough to get a few wickets.”

Surrey are third in Group II on 79 points, but just 26 points off leaders Gloucestershire.