We'll dismiss Australia for 350 - Kemar Roach
Kemar Roach's Test career consists of a pair of defeats to Bangladesh, but his confidence clearly remains undiminished. After his first day's play as a member of a full-strength West Indian squad, Roach spoke openly of exploiting Ricky Ponting's weaknesses, his desire to claim the final five Australian wickets for under 30 runs on Friday and his unflinching belief that the tourists can win the Gabba Test.
Anyone expecting West Indies to meekly surrender to the Australians this series clearly hadn't counted on the 21-year-old Bajan quick. In 16 overs of lively pace bowling, Roach terrorised Ponting - striking him a painful blow to the groin, rapping him on the pads with a delivery that, if sent for review, would have resulted in a wicket - before eventually dismissing the Australian captain with the ball of the day. And all at a top speed touching 150 kmh.
Such was his determination, few would have bet against Ponting converting his half-century into triple figures. Eight boundaries and a six had cannoned off his blade in the first session but Roach responded with a brisk and disciplined spell after lunch to rein him in. Then came the moment: a fuller, straighter delivery that drew Ponting into a push around his off stump. The ball flew off the edge and came to rest in the gloves of Denesh Ramdin, drawing West Indies back into the contest and providing Roach with a career highlight.
Asked about his dismissal of Ponting, the third highest run-scorer in Test history, Roach appeared decidedly unfazed. "We all know what Ricky's weakness is and I tried to exploit that," he said. "Today it worked."
The hubris didn't stop there. Pressed on what total he expected Australia to be dismissed for, Roach hardly needed a calculator. "Right now they're 322, so I would say 350 at the most they will score." Quizzed further about whether West Indies had a chance of winning the match, he momentarily bristled. "Of course," Roach continued. "We're always confident. We didn't just come here to play cricket, we came here to win."
Roach's supreme confidence will prove a welcome addition to a West Indian bowling unit struggling to come to terms with the absence of Fidel Edwards and, as of Thursday, contending with a left hip injury to Jerome Taylor. Taylor did not take the second new ball in the final session, but is expected to play a full part in the match.
If not for several missed opportunities in the field, West Indies' bowlers might well have claimed more than five wickets on the day. Roach, perhaps unsurprisingly, was confident those sins will be corrected on Friday. "I'm pretty satisifed," he said. "The guys put in a lot of work and had a pretty good day. We had some chances, but we pulled through nicely and to claim five wickets was good.
"It's very important [to claim an early wicket] because [Marcus North and Brad Haddin] are the last pair of recognised batsmen. Once we get that wicket we can try to get the guys out in the next hour or so and get our guys in batting."
Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo