Shannon Gabriel – The fast bowling tear away from the West Indies that juggles between lukewarm and menacing!
Shannon Terry Gabriel, Windies cricket all-rounder from Trinidad and Tobago, turns 35 on Friday 28th April 1988.
More pace than Holder and Roach. Easily more bounce than even Cottrell. But lesser accuracy than the trio. In fact, not nearly on the mark or on target when compared to the the young and relentless and vastly improving Alzarri Joseph.
Menacing but with a lack of discipline. Fast and furious, but often lacking the bite; that’s Shannon Gabriel for you.
He’s someone who’s got the engrossing physicality about him that one expects of a captivating fast bowler but maybe, not that overwhelming record that you’d desire seeing in a typical West Indian quickie.
Truth be told, the right arm pacer poses more doubts than astonishments given the talent with the ball.
Which is why, it might not be too offensive to wonder what might Shannon Gabriel say if he were to make a serious assessment about his own career?
Has he made it to where he wanted to be or does he feel that he can still go a yard quicker and collect more wickets in a series than he generally does.
The noted Trinidadian speedster has just turned 35, but that’s not at the back of supreme fitness or remarkable consistency.
As a matter of fact, he holds a rather dubious record where it concerns both departments.
For a bowler who arrived in a team where Jason Holder had already settled as a growing fast bowler, where Roach was the genuine medium pacer as also the go-to wicket taker, a lot about Shannon Gabriel still feels like some work in progress.
It still feels that Gabriel may deliver that backbreaking spell some day that’ll compel a Steyn, Ambrose or even Donald to wax lyrical all day about the Trinidadian’s Godspeed.
Instead, despite playing Test cricket for over a decade, his bowling figures of 8 for 62 came in the sixth year of Gabriel being in operation with the red ball.
The Second Test at Gros Islet against Sri Lanka saw Shannon Gabriel ripping into a batting order that had respectable names such as Dhananjaya, Perera, Mendis and Chandimal.
That wasn’t the only impressive performance that Gabriel lent himself to; on the placid and next-to-banal Sharjah pitch during the 2017 series against Pakistan, Shannon Gabriel really gave it everything and bent Pakistan in the third test.
Perhaps his 3 for 67 that included epic dismissals of Asad Shafiq and Azhar Ali – both dismissed for a duck- didn’t get the kind of attention that the effort deserved.
Though, it wasn’t the only time that Gabriel’s powerful and explosive bowling effort got rewarded through rich credit that it truly merited. To this day, we remember West Indies’s
2017 triumph over England at Leeds for Hope’s mesmerising centuries.
Little is spared to appreciate the West Indies bowler who edged England into a spot of bother. The bloke who picked six wickets on the whole, including amazing dismissals of Cook, Root and even Stokes!
Destiny’s not often been kind to a simple and uncomplicated cricketer but then has Gabriel really succeeded at looking after his own frame?
In the space of a single Test series, he can tightwalk between extremes. Shannon Gabriel can offer searing pace, generate regular- not- sporadic bounce and yet bowl casual looseners ultimately appearing as wayward as a giraffe stuck in a mud pool holding on to dear life.
But what’s most disconcerting about the muscular fast bowler is the underwhelming number of Test matches he’s gone on to play despite having debuted back (against England) in 2012.
Despite being on the field for easily ten odd years, all that Gabriel’s played are 58 Tests from
which he’s bowled 9235 deliveries. On the other hand, someone like Alzarri Joseph, who’s played 30 fewer Tests than his fellow West Indian has already bowled 4,866 deliveries, which is more than half of what the experienced Windies pacer has delivered.
Does that say something about just how less has Gabriel actually gone on to bowl?
While there’s little doubt about his overall talent as a bowler, the raw pace and the natural ability to extract bounce on just about any surface make him an ideal pick in a Test playing eleven, it’s the inability to turn the game on its head at the back of his own talent that make Gabriel seem ordinary.
Surely, he’s lent massive support to Roach forming with the Barbadian a rather impressive bowling pair, but can he win games like Holder and Roach on his own?
Perhaps somewhere in these insufficiencies despite the obvious flair for genuine fast bowling lies Gabriel’s career’s next big task.
While the board has helped him career manage his workload as he’s hardly played in the white ball format, it’s now on the fast bowling force to raise his game to its peak. But sans any more annoying injuries!