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May 30, 2012
Kemar Roach has been ruled out of the remainder of West Indies' tour of England with a shin injury and Sunil Narine, the spinner who is uncapped at Test level, has been named as his replacement.
Narine has just finished competing in the IPL* where he enjoyed considerable success for the winners, Kolkata Knight Riders, with 24 wickets at 13.50 and an economy rate of 5.47 from 15 matches. On hearing the news, an elated Narine said that he wants to be mentally and physically prepared for the task.
"When I got the call for the Test series...words can't explain how I felt at that moment. The dream was always to play Test cricket and I'm halfway there," Narine said. "I did well in the West Indies and I did well in India, but the pitches and conditions in England are different, so as a bowler you have to take your time to get ready and prepared."
Narine has played eight ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals, while his first-class cricket he has 34 wickets from six matches at 11.88. Narine has caught the eye with a variety of deliveries to put him in the 'mystery' category of offspinner and was expected to be named in the squad for the one-day series against England.
Roach, who has been West Indies' stand-out pace bowler during the Test series, was diagnosed with the injury following the second Test at Trent Bridge which the visitors lost by nine wickets to give England the series. He has been carrying soreness during most of the tour - and has spent time off the field during both matches - and will now aim to be fit for the visit of New Zealand.
West Indies coach Ottis Gibson admitted Roach was a major loss but said the decision was taken with a long-term view in mind. "We still have an awful lot of cricket to play this year and we did not want to risk losing as valuable a player as Kemar for a long period," he said.
"He has been outstanding with the ball for us so far this year and we are all gutted by his departure. Kemar made a lot of improvements, after enduring a tough time last year, and gave us some world-class performances during the series against Australia and here in England."
C.J. Clark, the West Indies physiotherapist, added: "Kemar has been carrying this soreness for the last two matches and in view of our upcoming schedule, we would like him to have the time to recover and prevent the onset of a more serious injury. It is always important to balance workload with the body's ability to repair, and I think it judicious to protect Kemar at this time."
During the first two Tests Roach bowled 68 overs to take eight wickets at 34.25 although he bowled better than the average suggests. At Trent Bridge he roughed up Jonny Bairstow with a series of rapid bouncers before having him caught at mid-on off a leading edge. However, he also suffered major problems with no-balls and twice had Alastair Cook caught behind off illegal deliveries before recovering his rhythm on the third day.
Roach is the second West Indies pace bowler to leave the tour following Shannon Gabriel's withdrawal after making his debut at Lord's. Gabriel was replaced by Tino Best who arrived shortly before the second Test.
West Indies have a two-day tour match against Leicestershire, starting on Saturday, to prepare for the final Test at Edgbaston and Gibson said Best and Fidel Edwards, who played at Lord's, will have a chance to stake a claim for a recall.
"We believe that a very excited Tino and a fit-again Fidel will be able to provide us with the spark that we will miss from Roach's absence," he said. "We still have an awful lot for which to play in the final Test, and Tino and Fidel can give us the cutting edge to our bowling if they play."
* 06:30 GMT, May 31, 2012 The story has been edited to remove a reference that suggested Narine had opted to play in the IPL over concurrent international series.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Andrew McGlashan
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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