Tue, 18 May 2021

Southampton [UK], July 6 (ANI): Ahead of the three-match Test series against England, West Indies pacer Kemar Roach has said that he is a big fan of all-rounder Ben Stokes.

Roach also praised Stokes and described him as a fantastic cricketer.

Stokes would be leading England in the first Test of the series as regular skipper Joe Root has left the camp to attend the birth of his second child.

"I am a huge fan of Ben Stokes. He is a fantastic cricketer. He is very energetic, brings a lot of energy to the field and a lot of confidence when he bats or when he bowls. So I am expecting a very free and relaxed England team to come out there and express themselves because that is the way he plays," ESPNCricinfo quoted Roach as saying.

"It is interesting to see him, captain, obviously it is the first time we are going to see it. But I am sure that with him at the head, they are in good hands as well. So, I wish him all the best," he added.

The Windies pacer also said that it would be interesting to see both Stokes and Jason Holder battling it out to outdo one another in the three-match series.

"It is always good to have challenges. It is always good to have battles, it brings out the best in you. I hope he (Holder) and Stokes go at it in a couple of Test matches here. They are both fantastic cricketers and I am sure that once they are battling it will be great cricket to watch," Roach said.

In Test cricket, Holder is the number one ranked all-rounder while Stokes is at the second spot.

Root had left England's training camp on Wednesday afternoon to be with his wife. The right-handed batsman also missed England's three-day intra-squad which was played from July 1-3.

Root will also commence a seven-day self-isolation period at home once he leaves the hospital with his family.

He will join up with the England squad ahead of the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford on July 13.

The England-Windies Test series will be held at Hampshire's Ageas Bowl and Lancashire's Emirates Old Trafford, which have been chosen as bio-secure venues.

The proposed dates for three Tests are:First Test: July 8-12 at Ageas BowlSecond Test: July 16-20 at Emirates Old TraffordThird Test: July 24-28 at Emirates Old TraffordAll international cricket has been suspended since March this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, the series between England and West Indies will mark the return of international cricket.

The ICC has also confirmed interim changes to its playing regulations, including the ban of saliva to shine the ball and allowing replacement of players displaying symptoms of COVID-19 during a Test match. (ANI)

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