Teammates say Gabriel will add fire to bowling offensive

Teammates say Gabriel will add fire to bowling offensive

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

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WEST Indies players believe the addition of pacer Shannon Gabriel to the front line squad brings greater potency to the bowling unit for the Test series against hosts England.

Gabriel, currently ranked among the top 20 bowlers in Test cricket, was originally listed among the reserves on tour after not playing a first class game since late last year and only recently recovering from ankle surgery. The 32-year-old Trinidadian proved his fitness with eight wickets in two intra-squad practice matches in Manchester.

“As we all know Shannon is ranked number 19 in the world. [He is] just coming off a slightly lean period in the last year or so but in the last two or three years, Shannon has been very successful,” Gabriel's teammate Shamarh Brooks said during a press conference at The Ageas Bowl in Southampton on Saturday.

The bustling fast bowler has claimed 133 wickets in 45 Tests at an average of 30.63.

On West Indies' previous Test tour of England, which was three years ago, Gabriel took seven wickets in two matches at 37.42 as the home team won the series 2-1.

Last year, when the Caribbean side triumphed 2-1 at home to retake the Wisden Trophy, he played all three matches to capture nine wickets at 31.22.

“We all know what he can do and I know it's also in the back of the mind of the English players, so having him in the side is a big boost,” said Brooks, who is set to take his place in the batting line-up for the first Test scheduled to begin tomorrow at The Ageas Bowl.

Speaking during a press conference on Sunday, Kemar Roach, who is expected to partner Gabriel in the bowling attack, suggested that a pace quartet completed by Captain Jason Holder and young pacer Alzarri Joseph will be a formidable one.

“It is fantastic to have Shannon around. Once he is fit and firing we all know what he is capable of. He's had a fantastic couple of years for West Indies; he's been bowling excellently.

“So with him, myself, Jason and also Alzarri…we are confident in how we understand each other's bowling. We have a lot of discussions and a lot of meetings together and we are ready now to get on the park and perform for West Indies,” Roach told journalists.

He said 23-year-old Antiguan Joseph, an Under-19 World Cup winner with West Indies in 2016, has the potential to become an all-time pace bowling great for the senior side.

“[Alzarri is] a fantastic talent; we all know what he is capable of. At a young age he is v ery, very enthusiastic, his work ethic is very good, and he is always willing to learn. He has improved significantly in my eyes and I think he has a great future for West Indies.

“I'm looking forward to play[ing] with him and obviously, in years to come,[I'll] probably be at home watching him play and leading the West Indies bowling attack. Once he sticks to his game plan, and obviously believes in himself and his confidence, I don't see why he can't perform well in this series as well,” Roach said.

Joseph, who made his debut four years ago, has taken 25 wickets in nine Tests.

He took 10 wickets in three matches at 23.8 against the touring Englishmen in 2019, but injury kept him out of the Test team for the rest of the year.

West Indies and England are slated for two additional Tests on the tour. Those matches, both to be staged in Manchester, are scheduled to start July 16 and 24, respectively. All matches will be played behind closed doors in a biosecure arrangement to reduce the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus.

Players from both teams are required to avoid members of the public and to follow physical distancing guidelines while on tour.

— Sanjay Myers

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