Shannon Gabriel

Shannon Gabriel likely to be bumped up to main Test squad, says Phil Simmons

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Shannon Gabriel, who was initially named in the reserve squad of players for West Indies' tour of England as he was recovering from an ankle injury, is likely to be added to the main Test squad.

Shannon Gabriel, the top wicket-taker for West Indies in Tests since 2013, is likely to be moved up to the main Test squad from the reserve list of players after he impressed head coach Phil Simmons in the nets.

Gabriel underwent surgery last November for an ankle injury and was in a six-month rehabilitation programme thereafter. As his recovery had only just completed, West Indies chose to name him in the reserve list of players for the tour of England, but he has shown promising signs. 

"When leaving home, 14 were named in the squad. Because of Shannon [Gabriel] 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," Simmons said.

The touring side plays warm-up games within the squad starting Tuesday and if Gabriel manages to come through unscathed, the indication from Simmons is that he will be added to the main squad.

"Yes, there is a possibility of Shannon Gabriel joining the touring party," Simmons said. "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."

Gabriel, who is in the top 20 of the MRF Tyres ICC Test bowling rankings, has been a regular in West Indies' starting XI in Tests alongside fellow pace bowlers, Jason Holder and Kemar Roach. However, he might be competing with the young sensation, Alzarri Joseph, who Simmons said will be a 'big hit on this tour', for a place in the starting XI.

West Indies have a strong bowling attack centred around their impressive pace attack. Since 2018, the team's bowling average of 25.63 in Tests is second only to India's.

"The top three bowlers speak for themselves. Jason Holder is the No.1 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," Simmons said.

With the depth at his disposal and the first Test still a couple of weeks away, Simmons hasn't zeroed in on a potential starting XI. He said that decision will be made only after West Indies get to the venue – they're currently training at Old Trafford. He did, however, suggest that spin-bowling all-rounder Rakheem Cornwall is likely to be in the scheme of things.

"We haven't seen what the Ageas Bowl is like," Simmons said. "When we see that, we will know what our combination will be like. But at this stage, you can say that Rakheem [Cornwall] 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."

After the first warm-up game, West Indies will also play a four-day, first-class game with the first-choice team playing against the reserves. The first Test starts on July 8 at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.

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