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Kemar Roach’s Run of Bad Luck

CricViz analysis reveals the extent of the Windies’ bad fortune.

In the build-up to this series, a large proportion of the chatter was about the West Indies venomous pace attack. An attack complete with the raw pace and the intricate skills everyone believes is needed to be successful in English conditions. The leader of this attack, and the man who seemed destined to be the scourge of the England batsmen this series: Kemar Roach.

Roach is by far the most experienced Windies bowler, with 193 wickets from his 58 matches and an impressive record against England, with 42 wickets at a pre-series average of 26.59. However, he has however been unable to translate that excellent record into wickets in this series, but it has not been for lack of trying.

At CricViz, our Expected Wickets model which uses ball-tracking data to calculates the ‘expected’ number of wickets the deliveries bowled should have taken. Our data shows that given the balls he’s bowled in this series, Roach should have taken 8.4 wickets, but so far has picked up just two. Both came late on Day 2 of the second Test where England were looking to accelerate, and wickets may have been easier to come by. But in the heat of the battle with the new ball in hand, he has been unable to make the vital breakthroughs the West Indies have needed, on three different occasions.

expected wickets table 1

As the table above shows, Roach has the highest difference between his Expected Wickets and his actual returns.

So why is his Expected Wickets figure the highest of the West Indies pace attack? And why has his reward in this series been so small?

It seems fairly obvious, but most batsmen have a much lower average against balls hitting their stumps. Straight balls bring more modes of dismissal into play, and most batsmen find it tougher. In terms of targeting the stumps, Roach comes out pick of the Windies bunch, marginally ahead of Shannon Gabriel, the Windies leading wicket taker in this series, and someone reliant on numerous bowled and LBW decisions. Roach’s constant threat to the stumps have certainly contributed to his high Expected Wicket value.

proj windies 1

Credit has to go however, to the English batsmen. They have left alone almost exactly one third of the balls Roach has delivered in this series thus far, the most of any of the Windies pace attack by a distance. Of the balls that England have had played, 13% of them have been missed, creating numerous ‘Nearly Moments’ for Roach throughout the series. The England camp would have been well aware of the threat Roach poses, but they appear to have studied hard, and formulated plans to blunt his threat.

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Roach has also found exceptional movement through the air, and off the pitch, which no doubt will have contributed to his high Expected Wicket value and caused many of the edges and misses shown above. He has extracted an average of 0.7° deviation off the pitch, second only to Holder, the king of lateral movement throughout this series, and currently one of the best bowlers in Test cricket.

Despite those edges having fallen short, and marginal LBW decisions having gone against him, Roach will not be disheartened. He knows it’s only a matter of time until his luck returns and he will return to his rightful place as leader of this dangerous and vibrant West Indian pace attack. The two wickets in two balls which ended his drought was evidence enough that cricket has a way of giving back when it has taken away. You just have to stay out there long enough for the luck to turn around.

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