Obituary

Clifford Roach

ROACH, CLIFFORD ARCHIBALD, who died on April 16, 1988, at the age of 84, was the last surviving member of the side which, under R. K. Nunes, played in West Indies' First Test Match, at Lord's in 1928. In that match, batting in the middle order, he scored 0 (run out) and 16, but it was in his customary position as an attacking opening batsman that, against England at Barbados in the First Test of 1929-30, he became the first West Indian to score a Test century. His 122, containing twenty fours, was also his maiden first-class hundred, and he followed it with 77 in the second innings.

To this distinction he added West Indies' first Test double-hundred two Tests later at Georgetown, having in the interim recorded a pair at his home ground, Port-of-Spain, and suggested subsequently to the selectors that he stand down. The wise men decided otherwise and, led by Roach's 209, a hundred in each innings from Headley and nine wickets by Constantine, West Indies won by 289 runs their first Test victory. Roach, who hit three sixes and 23 fours, put on 144 for the first wicket with Hunte and then 192 with Headley as he raced to his second hundred in 74 minutes. In the second innings he was stumped by Ames for 22.

He made his d├ębut for Trinidad in 1923-24, having played his early cricket on the island's matting wickets. A confirmed strokemaker, equally fluent off front and back foot, he came to terms sufficiently with the conditions in England in 1928, although it is significant perhaps that his tour aggregate of 1,222 runs at 26.56 did not include a century. However, he gave much pleasure to spectators, not least with his brilliant fielding, particularly in the covers.

In the other two Tests played that summer, he top-scored for West Indies with 50 at Old Trafford and 53 at The Oval, where he and Challenor got the match under way with 91 in 70 minutes. With C. G. Grant's side in Australia in 1930-31 he scored 637 runs at 24.50 in the first-class matches, but after beginning with 56 at Adelaide he endured a lean run in the Tests until scoring 31 and 34 in the Fifth Test at Sydney, where West Indies gained their first victory over Australia.

In England in 1933 he again began unhappily in the Test with a pair at Lord's, caught first ball when West Indies followed on, only to recover with 13 and 64 at Old Trafford and 8 and 56 at The Oval, reaching his half-century in just 33 minutes. Against Surrey, earlier in the tour, he had scored 128 before lunch there and gone on to 180 in 170 minutes, his highest innings in a tour aggregate of 1,286 at 25.72.

His final Test match was at Barbados against England in 1934-35, when on a pitch drying after rain he scored 9 and 10 not out to take his total runs from sixteen matches to 952 with an average of 30.70. He had also taken two wickets. In 98 first-class matches he scored 4,851 runs at 28.04 with his double-hundred at Georgetown the highest of his five centuries. His five wickets cost 105.20 apiece.

© John Wisden & Co