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Kemar Roach advises Shamar Joseph to build his legacy despite distractions of franchise cricket

Joseph struck with his first ball in Test cricket when he removed Steven Smith, then finished with 5 for 94 and also showed his prowess with the bat to suggest he won’t be staying at No. 11 for long.

His rise to Test cricket has been remarkable on the back of just five first-class games, having grown up in the village of Baracara in Guyana, which could only be reached by boat. He has now shot to global prominence and is being talked about as part of West Indies’ future as they look to rebuild their Test cricket, but Joseph already has an ILT20 deal and more such offers are unlikely to be far away.

“The best advice I can give him is to build his own legacy,” Roach said. “Understand what you want from cricket. That’s up to him to determine, if it’s monetary, or if it’s just stats and statistics or whatever. There’s going to be a lot of distractions… he’s a hot commodity right now. So he needs to choose what he really wants and what he thinks is best for his career going forward. So it’s up to him, as a young man, but I definitely give him that advice.”

Roach, the senior figure in West Indies’ attack with 80 caps to his name, is happy to take on a mentor role having had similar players to feed off early in his career.

“I had that when I started. Jerome Taylor, Daren Powell, Fidel Edwards [were] some guys around to help me when I started my career,” he said. “I took knowledge and learning from it. So obviously for me now, it’s all about passing on the mantle now to the youngsters. He’s got a very good career ahead of him. At this stage, he’s willing to learn. We have a lot of conversations. So, I think once he keeps doing that, not just coming from me but anyone who he thinks can help him in his career, he can take a lot of knowledge on board and become a better cricketer.”
Roach himself is towards the latter stages of his career but has put no end point on his Test career. “Day by day,” he said with a smile, “let’s see how it goes.” He made a big impression on his first tour of Australia when he forced Ricky Ponting to retire hurt in Perth but has found the country the toughest place to take wickets with 10 at 77.90 from eight matches.

“As a bowler coming to Australia you are bowling against some of the best batters in the world so there is always a good challenge,” he said. “I love a good challenge. I have lived for that my whole career so for me coming here is just about expressing yourself, enjoying and relishing the moment and giving it a good go. Be confident in yourself and your skills and let’s see how the day goes for you.”

Roach only briefly dipped his toe into the franchise world of T20 – his last game in the format was in 2018 – although that did include a stint with Brisbane Heat, who will play the BBL final against Sydney Sixers on Wednesday. The last time Heat won the BBL was in 2012-13, when Roach claimed 3 for 18 against Perth Scorchers at the WACA. “I saw my picture on the wall, so good memories,” he said of his return to the Gabba, the home ground of Heat.
Test cricket, where he ranks fifth among West Indies’ all-time wicket-takers, has remained his No. 1 priority and Roach firmly believes that is the case among many young players in the Caribbean.

“I love Test cricket,” he said. “Honestly, I love the red-ball format. I’ve played one-dayers and the T20 format as well but I think my heart was always a part of the red ball. I just wanted to be a part of those mega cricketers back in the days. The Joel Garners, the Malcolm Marshalls, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, I just want to be a part of those names.

“And I think for me, obviously, I didn’t grow up much in the franchise era. So I had Test cricket at heart, and it has stuck with me throughout. I just think it is different times now. So for me, it’s just about these youngsters, what they want to achieve from it. And they make the right decisions and they go forward [in their] careers.

“The franchises are a big distraction,” he added. “But guys still want to relish red-ball cricket. Test cricket is still at the hearts of West Indian cricketers at home. It’s just about us to provide support around it. To keep those guys interested in red-ball cricket. Discussions will be had. I’m not part of it. They take Tests very seriously still. They are very proud to be a part of the red-ball team for the West Indies.”

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