The pace attack of the West Indies Cricket team has been bolstered by the inclusion of Shannon Gabriel, who was a vital cog in West Indies’ victory over England the last time these two sides met in a Test series, at the Caribbean.
The experienced fast bowler was among the reserves and has now been drafted into the 15-member Test squad after proving his fitness following ankle surgery and impressive performances in the two inter-squad warm-up matches at the Emirates Old Trafford.
Roger Harper, Cricket West Indies Lead Selector said, “I am delighted that we are able to add Shannon to the Test squad. He has shown that he is fit and ready, he will add experience, firepower and potency to the bowling unit.”
Earlier, Phil Simmons, West Indies’ head coach, suggested Gabriel was now bowling as fast as he has seen him for a while and hinted that, if he came through the warm-up games, he was highly likely to be added to the 14-man Test squad.
He said, “Yes, there is a possibility of Shannon Gabriel joining the touring party. He’s one of West Indies’ prominent fast bowlers coming back from injury and we just had to make sure that he was fit enough to work through the tour. The last week he’s been at full tilt and he looks fit. He looks good. He’s bowling as fast as I’ve seen him for a while so he’s ready and close enough to the Test match. When leaving home 14 were named in the squad. Because of Shannon coming back from his injury, we had to let him get a little bit further and see how he is and then we’ll decide whether to make it a 15-member squad. After that, injuries might be the cause for changes.”
“The top three bowlers speak for themselves. Jason Holder is the number one ranked all-rounder in the world in Test cricket, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel are high up on that fast bowling list in the ICC rankings. That shows you there’s quality there.”
West Indies have commenced their match practice with an intra squad 3 day warm up game last Tuesday, which featured teams of more than 11 players and saw some flexibility around conventional playing arrangements. Currently, they are playing a four-day, first-class match consisting of the Test team against the reserves.
Simmons had also hinted that West Indies quick Alzarri Joseph and off spinner Rahkeem Cornwall are in the plans for being included in the XI. Both venues, The Rose Bowl and The Emirates, Old Trafford provide assistance to spinners in the latter stages.
Simmons said, “We haven’t seen what the Ageas Bowl is like. When we see that, we will know what our combination will be like. But at this stage, you can say that Rakheem will be a part. He got 10 wickets against Afghanistan in our last Test. So you can say he’ll be a part if we go in with two spinners and three fast bowlers or four and one. Alzarri Joseph is going to be a big hit on this tour.”
Simmons had confirmed that the entire squad, including the reserves, were currently considered fit with Jason Holder having recovered from “a little thing with his ankle”. He said, “He seems to be all right. He batted and bowled today. He could bat No. 6; Shane Dowrich could bat No. 6. The warm-up games will help us decide how we structure the batting. There are possibilities in different directions.”