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Stats Analysis

Top-order demolisher Kemar Roach among West Indian greats

A statistical look through Roach's journey in Tests, where he is one short of joining the 250-wicket club

Kemar Roach produced a triple-wicket opening burst, Surrey vs Middlesex, LV= Insurance Championship, Kia Oval, 3rd day, May 22, 2021

Kemar Roach is one shy of 250 Test match wickets  •  Getty Images

Seven wickets, which included five-wicket haul, during the first Test against Bangladesh put Kemar Roach one short of joining the 250 Test wickets club. Here's a statistical look through his journey in the longer format and how he has become a force of late.
In a league of legends
Another wicket in Tests will make Roach only the sixth bowler to achieve 250 wickets for West Indies, which will make him go past Michael Holding. Although Roach's average (26.71) is on the higher side compared to the other bowlers in the 250-wicket club, his strike rate of 52.6 is well ahead of West Indies greats Courtney Walsh (54.5) and Curtly Ambrose (57.8).
A strong comeback
Roach had a solid start to his Test career, picking up 82 wickets in 21 matches across the first four years. He averaged 27.69 while claiming five five-fors. However, the performance in the following four years led to Roach getting dropped from the Test side. He took only 40 wickets in the 16 Tests played between 2013 and 2016 while averaging 35.45. Roach returned in August 2017 on the tour of England, where he finished as his team's leading wicket-taker.
In 35 Tests since his comeback in 2017, Roach took 127 wickets at an average of 23.33. Though Roach has only four five-fors since his return, he has struck once every 49.8 balls. Roach's average is the sixth-best of the 16 bowlers to have picked up 100-plus wickets in this period. Other than Roach, only Jason Holder (101) has taken 100-plus wickets for West Indies in this period.
First-innings average and new ball wickets
Roach been successful in providing the breakthroughs with the new ball since his comeback, having taken 44 wickets in the first 15 overs of the innings. In the same period, only Stuart Broad (53) has more than Roach in the first 15 overs, while James Anderson also has 44 to his name. In terms of average, Roach's 17.81 is behind only R Ashwin's 17.8 among the bowlers to have taken 15-plus wickets.
A majority of Roach's wickets since his return to Tests have come in the first innings, where he has picked up 90 wickets, while he has picked just 37 in the second. Among the bowlers with 50-plus first-innings wickets in this period, Roach's average of 20.63 is only behind Anderson's 20.40. Roach averages 22.33 in the last five years while bowling in the first innings of a Test match and 15.95 in the second innings.
Hunting the top-order
Bowling with the new ball means most of Roach's wickets have been of top-order batters. About half of his career tally (125 out of 249) in this format are of top four batters. Roach's 249 Test wickets include 102 wickets of the players batting in the top three, which is 42.16 % of his career tally. Among the bowlers with 200-plus wickets, only Zaheer Khan has claimed a higher percentage of top-three batters. As many as 140 of Zaheer's 311 Test wickets were of the top three batters, equivalent to 45.01%.
Better than the rest
While Roach averages 26.71 with the ball in Tests, the rest of his team-mates averaged 35.31 in the innings he bowled. A ratio of 0.76 between Roach's average and the average of the rest is the 11th best for anyone with 200-plus wickets in this format. Curtly Ambrose (0.71) is the only West Indian among the ten players with a better ratio than Roach.
The equivalent ratio for Roach since his comeback is 0.72, the fifth-best for any bowler with 50-plus wickets in this period. Roach averages 23.33 in the last five years, while his team-mates averaged 32.2 in the 64 innings he bowled. Anderson tops the list with a ratio of 0.67, averaging 22.12, with his team-mates averaging 33.1.

Sampath Bandarupalli is a statistician at ESPNcricinfo