WELLINGTON, New Zealand (CMC) — Fast bowler Shannon Gabriel hopes his 50th Test match for West Indies starting here today can coincide with a turnaround in their fortunes, especially against the backdrop of the heavy defeat in last week’s first Test.
The 32-year-old Trinidadian is poised to become only the eighth West Indies fast bowler to reach the milestone when he leads the Caribbean side’s attack in the second Test at the Basin Reserve here.
Though the wounds are still fresh from the innings and 134-run defeat in Hamilton, Gabriel said the Windies understood what was required and were determined to show improvement.
“I think we need to learn from our mistakes. What happened in the last game I think we need to put that [behind us]. That is the past, we can’t really focus on that too much,” Gabriel said here yesterday.
“We’ll just look forward to the future, stick to our basics and concentrate on what we have to do as a team together and work together.
“We know what our mistakes were, we know where we fell down in the last game so we’re just trying to keep it as simple as possible and to go out there and play our best cricket.”
Gabriel picked up three wickets in the last Test as New Zealand piled up 519 for seven behind Captain Kane Williamson’s career-best 251.
That haul put him on the brink of another milestone as he now needs only another three wickets to reach 150 and become the 11th West Indies fast bowler to pass the threshold.
“Ten years ago if somebody told me that ‘Shannon you’re going to play 50 Tests matches for West Indies’, I would want to know if they were smoking or on some kind of drugs or something,” Gabriel said.
“So it’s a good opportunity for me, it’s a blessing. I want to thank God for that, along with family and friends who have supported me throughout my career thus far and hopefully I can go on to much better and greater things.”
Now on his third tour of New Zealand and yet to be involved in a winning result, Gabriel said one of the challenges remained the type of ball used in the series.
“I think generally the wickets are good. I just think the ball is a bit different,” he explained.
“We’re accustomed using Duke balls back home and most of the places we go are Duke balls. So that makes it a bit tougher in terms of less sideways movement [here] and things like that but I think New Zealand is a good team and they will always give you a good fight.”
In Wellington, Gabriel will find himself yet again pitted against Williamson, a player he has now faced in three Tests but yet to dismiss.
He said the key to Williamson’s wicket was staying patient.
“You’ve got to be prepared to work hard,” Gabriel pointed out.
“He’s a guy who’s not going to give you much chances so you have to be able to focus and be mentally strong to run in each ball and put the ball in the right spot and hope for something to happen.
“He’s not going to give you his wicket so you have to work hard for it.”
Main Photo Shannon Gabriel