Thu | Oct 29, 2020

Holder hails Gabriel

Published:Tuesday | July 14, 2020 | 12:34 AM
West Indies’ Shannon Gabriel bowls during the fourth day of the first cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Saturday, July 11, 2020. ap
West Indies’ Shannon Gabriel bowls during the fourth day of the first cricket Test match between England and West Indies, at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, England, Saturday, July 11, 2020. ap

MANCHESTER, England (CMC):

West Indies captain Jason Holder has praised Shannon Gabriel’s “massive heart” and said the speedster’s excellent showing in his first Test back following injury had not come as a surprise.

Gabriel bowled with pace and aggression to rock England during the opening Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, finishing with match figures of nine for 137 to help propel West Indies to a four-wicket victory and a crucial 1-0 lead in the three-Test series.

The Trinidadian missed the Test against Afghanistan in India last November, undergoing ankle surgery the following month. He subsequently underwent rehabilitation but was unable to play a competitive game in the Caribbean after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the final two rounds of the first-class championship.

“What Shannon has done in this game is nothing surprising,” Holder told reporters following Sunday’s win in Southampton.

“Shannon is one of those guys who just keeps doing it because he has a big heart. He has a massive, massive heart and he’s been through a lot and wants success so badly.

“His body hasn’t held up I guess the way he would’ve liked in the past but to see him out there fit and running in and bowling fast for West Indies is always a pleasing sight, and he deserves every bit of success he’s had so far in this game.”

NEEDS RHYTHM IN LEGS

He continued: “For us, it’s just more or less to keep managing Shannon in the best way we can. He is a rhythm bowler as well so he needs to get some miles on his legs and some rhythm in his legs too.

“I’m really, really happy for Shannon, I know what he’s been through. We kept in contact while he was doing rehab. At some stages he was very frustrated with how things were going but he stuck it through.

“He had a good team behind him in Trinidad; he’s done a lot of work with Ronald Rogers (West Indies strength and conditioning coach) as well, prior to coming over here and he’s reaped the success that all of us presumed he would’ve gotten, just based on the calibre bowler he is.

“We all know that once Shannon is fit and healthy, he’s a handful and he proved difficult in this game.”

In England’s first innings, Gabriel snatched four for 62 as the hosts crumbled for 204 after being 154 for four at one stage. Holder spearheaded the attack with a career-best six for 42.

With England gaining a stranglehold at 249 for three in their second innings on the fourth day, Man-of-the-Match Gabriel snared five for 75 to engineer a collapse that saw the last six wickets tumble for 64 runs.

Holder conceded England’s batting had been made weaker by the absence of captain Joe Root, allowing the Windies bowlers to target untried players.

While Gabriel earned match honours, batsman Jermaine Blackwood proved the star of the final day, stroking a superb 95 as West Indies chased down 200 for victory.

West Indies face England in the second Test starting at Old Trafford on Thursday.