Pacer Roach hails Windies great Garner
In this file photo, Kemar Roach of West Indies celebrates the dismissal of Jos Buttler of England during day two of the first Test at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, on January 24, 2019.(Photo: AFP )

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CMC) – Kemar Roach has praised the input of West Indies fast-bowling legend Joel Garner after overtaking him on the all-time West Indies list of wicket-takers in Tests.

The 34-year-old Roach claimed 5-47 in the second innings of the opening Test against South Africa at SuperSport Park in Centurion last week, to move into fifth place on the West Indies charts with 260 wickets from 76 Tests.

Fellow Barbadian Garner, a member of the stellar West Indies pace battery of the 1970s and 80s, now lies sixth with 259 wickets from 58 Tests.

"When I first came into the West Indies team, he was the team manager and I spent a lot of time in his room, communicating with him and stuff [like that] and learning the tricks of the trade," Roach said.

"And he's always took me under his wing. He checks in on me once and a while and we had a good friendship, so to pass him is a great honour … and it's just who's next on the list [to surpass].

"For me, it's to stay fit, stay positive, stick around the young guys, get some youth from them and play as long as I can for the West Indies."

Roach was outstanding in the first session on the third day at SuperSport Park, dismantling the Proteas for 116 after they resumed the morning on 49 for four.

The five-wicket haul was Roach's 11th in the longest format, further installing him as one of the greats of the modern game and as West Indies' best seamer over the last decade.

And with wickets continuing to come, Roach said he still maintained a deep desire to continue at the highest level.

"For me, motivation comes from wanting to perform, wanting to get my numbers up, [and] obviously get among the greats for West Indies," he explained.

"And then we have a great, fantastic dressing room – the camaraderie, the fun we have. Everyone in the dressing room gets along well with each other so that's the motivation for me to keep going as long as I can.

"Let's see how long I can go – hopefully two, three, four, five, six more years," Roach laughed.

He sits behind Courtney Walsh (519), Sir Curtly Ambrose (405), Malcolm Marshall (376) and Lance Gibbs (309), but faces a race against time to crest the 300-mark largely due to West Indies' inactivity in Test cricket.

Last year, the Caribbean side played only seven Tests to follow up the 10 they played the previous year, and have been averaging just over seven Tests per year over the last five years.

For the exception of the three-Test England tour in 2022, West Indies featured almost exclusively in two-Test series, and Roach believes the international governing body can do more to increase the numbers of Tests.

"I think West Indies deserves some more Test cricket. I think we do," said Roach.

"We've been competing pretty well for the past two years. We've done pretty well in the Test Championship so I think the ICC can probably look at giving some of the lower tier teams more series.

"Two Test matches [per] series is pretty tough. By the time you get a rhythm, the series is over so I'm thinking three Tests should be more acceptable."

West Indies lost the opening Test against South Africa by 87 runs inside three days and face the hosts again in the second and final Test at The Wanderers starting Wednesday.

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