WEST Indies batsman Shamarh Brooks thinks the addition of fast bowler Shannon Gabriel to the squad would be a huge boost as the regional team continues to prepare for the first Test match against England, starting on Wednesday.
When West Indies left the Caribbean a month ago Gabriel was not included on the 14-man squad, but named as one of the 11 reserves. The coaching staff wanted to monitor Gabriel’s progress as he was not fully fit after an ankle surgery last November.
Gabriel was among the wickets during the two intra-squad practice matches. On Thursday, Gabriel was included in the squad for the first Test at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
The Trinidadian would add more fire power to the fast bowling attack which already includes captain Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Alzarri Joseph and Chemar Holder.
Brooks spoke with journalists on Zoom on Saturday.
On the inclusion of Gabriel, Brooks said, “That is a big boost. As we all know Shannon is ranked number 19 in the world and just coming off a slight lean period in the last year or so, but in the last two or three years Shannon has been very successful and we all know what he can do. I know he is also in the back of the minds of the English players so having him in the side is a big boost.”
Gabriel, 32, has played 45 Test matches and has taken 133 wickets.
Brooks, a newcomer to the team, has showed promise during the three Test matches he has played.
The Barbadian has an average of 34.80 with one century and one fifty.
Brooks knows eyes would be on the bowlers during the series, but believes the batting is capable. “Clearly our bowling would be our strength and it has been our strength for the last couple years. If you look at our batting when we do get it right as a batting unit we have won cricket games and that is why I am stressing on the point that we need to bat well especially against teams like England at home who are going to be very challenging.”
The right-handed batsman says preparations have been beneficial.
“We have had good preparation over the last couple of weeks and I am backing us to do well once we can play the basics and play simple cricket.”
Before arriving in Southampton on Friday for the first Test, West Indies spent more than three weeks at a bio-secure venue in Manchester training and playing matches among themselves.
Brooks is not concerned that the Windies players have not been involved in competitive action since March because of covid19. He said, “I think we have had enough time to prepare. We have been here three to four weeks now. We have had two practice matches…but having said that we just came off of a First Class season as well so it is not like we are out of the woods in terms of not being in cricket form.
“I know three (to four) months might seem like a while, but I think the four weeks that we’ve had here would’ve been enough time to get ourselves back in shape and be ready for this Test series.”
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