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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2019 Test bowling winner: Kemar the killer

Shades of the West Indies' 1980s pomp in the best Test bowling performance of 2019

Valkerie Baynes
Valkerie Baynes
Gimme five  •  Getty Images

Gimme five  •  Getty Images

More on the awards here
That Roach's stunning spell had observers referencing the devastating West Indies bowling performances of the 1970s and '80s gives all the indication necessary of its impact on the result - a resounding 381-run victory and, ultimately, a 2-1 series win for the home side. After all, a return of five wickets for four runs in 27 balls is, as the man himself put it, "special". Roach laid the foundation, in a match that had many more jaw-dropping feats to come - an unbroken 295-run partnership between Jason Holder and Shane Dowrich that included a double-century for the former and a hundred for the latter, and Roston Chase's eight second-innings wickets.
Roach was pivotal in bowling England out for the lowest total ever posted at Bridgetown, and the visitors never recovered. Rory Burns was beaten for pace and Jonny Bairstow for bounce. Ben Stokes was pinned back and rapped on the pad by a ball that would have kissed the bails. A scorcher shocked Moeen Ali into a clumsy edge down fine leg's throat, and a short ball drew Jos Buttler's defensive edge for a caught behind. Roach had England's top and middle order reeling and it was curtains before they knew it.

Key moment

It was the 12th over - Roach's fourth and the first after lunch - when he switched to the Joel Garner End and, with the fifth ball, got the wicket of England opener Burns, who came slightly forward and dragged onto off stump, thus beginning England's collapse. Roach said later that he had initially given bowling partner Shannon Gabriel his preference of ends, but after a tight but less threatening opening spell, "took it back and did my job". The resulting demolition job put West Indies in a strong position with a lead in excess of 300 by the end of the day.

The numbers

77 England's first-innings tally after Roach had worked his magic.
7 The number of maidens Roach bowled in his 11 overs for the innings.
172 Roach's height, in centimetres. At not quite 5ft 8in, he isn't built like your typical fast bowler but he finds a way - in this case with a relentless full length and a savage short ball.

What they said

"I've felt better in the past, but today the ball came out of my hand pretty well. I was pretty happy with how I felt. Eight overs on the trot was a bit tough, the heat was pretty hot, but I was ready to go for the team."
- Kemar Roach
"They bowled fantastically well, with good pace."
- Moeen Ali, who was one of Roach's victims

The closest contenders

Jasprit Bumrah, 6 for 27 v West Indies, second Test, Kingston
An Indian fast bowler stealing the limelight against West Indies is a rarity but a spellbinding scene dominated by Bumrah on day two saw him claim six of the seven Windies wickets to fall, including Nos. 3, 4 and 5 in consecutive deliveries as he became the third Indian to take a Test hat-trick. Complementing his fuller deliveries with the odd short ball and finding sideways movement both ways, Bumrah managed to clinch a series-defining 257-run win for India.
Neil Wagner, 5 for 44 v England, first Test, Mount Maunganui
Wagner's trademark tenacity came to the fore on a pitch that had offered little to the bowlers. His variations accounted for three recognised England batsmen as well as a couple of tailenders, giving him the lead role rather than the more familiar role of support act to Trent Boult, who was out injured, and Tim Southee. Wagner has said that he doesn't regard himself as the most talented bowler, calling instead on supreme fitness to take him through notoriously long spells, hurling down bouncer after bouncer. He also uses the element of surprise - a wide, short ball here; a knuckleball there; and a swinging yorker just for good measure. On this occasion he played his role to perfection.

Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo