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'Shannon Gabriel has a massive heart and he's been through a lot' - Jason Holder
West Indies News

'Shannon Gabriel has a massive heart and he's been through a lot' - Jason Holder

Jason Holder has heaped praise on Shannon Gabriel after the tearaway speedster's nine-wicket match haul steered West Indies to victory in the first Test against England.

The heavily built pacer was initially a part of the bunch of reserves included by the selectors in West Indies' touring party since he was still under the process of rehabilitation following his ankle surgery.

He was then drafted into the main squad following an impressive display in the two intra-squad warm-up games preceding the series.

Gabriel's match fitness has been a persistent area of concern for the team management but his combined figures of nine wickets for 137 runs during a historic win for his side quash all doubts over his ability to perform.

"What Shannon has done in this game is nothing surprising," Holder told reporters in a virtual press conference.

"Shannon is just one of those guys who keep doing it. He has a massive, massive heart and he's been through a lot.

"He wants success so badly. His body hasn't held up the way he would like but to see him back out there fit and well and bowling fast for the West Indies is always a pleasing sight."

Gabriel's destructive spells showcased his consistency as he bettered his first-innings heroics with a five-wicket haul in England's subsequent outing with the bat.

Maintaining his penchant for dismissing batsmen clean bowled, five of Gabriel's nine wickets in the match saw the batter's stumps being dismantled by feisty thunderbolts.

He often used the bowling crease to his advantage by confusing batsmen with the point of release and outfoxing them with some sharp, late swing.

Gabriel's express pace did not plummet to alarmingly low levels throughout the two innings as he managed to keep the proverbial steam intact whenever he was handed the red cherry.

He now boasts a tally of 142 wickets with an average of under 30 across his 46-Test career that has frequently been blighted with unfortunate run-ins with injuries.

Taking into account Gabriel's resilient journey in the face of fitness woes, Holder lauded his attitude and reiterated how valuable the 32-year-old is to the West Indies' bowling lineup.

"He deserves every bit of success he's had in this game. 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 by how things were going but he stuck it through," added Holder, who himself was the chief destroyer of England's batting on day two.

"We all know when Shannon is fit and healthy, he is a handful and he proved it in this game."