Holder thrilled with Gabriel's return


Holder thrilled with Gabriel's return

Monday, May 25, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) — West Indies Captain Jason Holder says he is happy to see ace fast bowler Shannon Gabriel back to fitness and ready to return to international cricket, if the proposed upcoming series in England takes place.

Speaking on local radio here Saturday night, Holder reiterated that safety was paramount as officials continued discussions over the logistics and medical protocols for the first-ever series in a biosecure environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gabriel has been one of the leading bowlers for West Indies in the last five years and has an impressive record of 133 wickets at an average of 30 runs per wicket.

He had a stellar year in 2018 when he had match figures for 13 for 121 against Sri Lanka in St Lucia – the third-best match figures in West Indies history.

The 32-year-old missed the one-off Test against Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, last November as he opted for corrective surgery on a long-term ankle injury.

He last played against India in Jamaica last September.

“I'm happy to have him back…he's been able to get over the injury. I'm just glad he's pretty much healthy again,” Holder told hosts Leighton Levy and Kimani Ffriend on SportsNation Live on Nationwide 90FM.

“Shannon goes through a lot physically when he bowls…he is one of those bowlers who puts a lot of strain on the body so it's good to see that he can now run in.

“He was bowling through a lot of pain, he was pushing really hard…[it's good he's in] a lot less pain and [will] be able to execute for West Indies again.”

Holder, the world's top-ranked Test all-rounder, said when the game resumes following the break caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, bowlers will have to exercise caution in their preparation.

“Our bowlers have to be careful when we start back – we have to make sure we don't push it too hard too fast,” said the Barbadian.

“We will have a build-up leading up to that first Test match. These are all things that have been part of many discussions and we know we will have to gradually build things up leading into the first game.”

Gabriel, along with Holder, Kemar Roach and Alzarri Joseph, currently form the nucleus of West Indies' pace attack in the longest format.

The final decision on whether or not West Indies will face England in the three-Test series is expected to be made later this week at a Cricket West Indies (CWI) board of directors meeting.

In preparation, CWI recently identified an expanded list of 30 players for the tour. According to the regional governing body, this was to help its operations and medical departments, which were working on a plan for the potential travel to the United Kingdom.

With travel in the Caribbean at a virtual standstill because of the outbreak, CWI said it was critical it was aware of all home territories from which players embarked, while also understanding the COVID-19 testing capabilities of these territories and ensuring visas and relevant documentation were secured.

Under the current proposal, the tour would bowl off in July and feature strict social distancing and quarantine measures.

“We fully expect the quarantine for two weeks, but within our discussions with the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] we would expect to be in a facility that allows us to train outdoors,” said CWI chief executive, Johnny Grave.

“So we're talking about cricket venues that have hotel accommodation on the site, and therefore the entire practice facility as well as hotel accommodation would be in a biosecure environment.”

The UK has been one of the hardest hit regions affected by the coronavirus, with 260,000 infections and nearly 37,000 deaths.

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