Support Comes From Gabriel In Southampton Triumph > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Holder hails Gabriel after Southampton triumph

The 32-year-old was initially only a part of the reserves and was a last minute addition to the squad just days before the Test match

The 32-year-old was initially only a part of the reserves and was a last minute addition to the squad just days before the Test match

West Indies captain Jason Holder has hailed pacer Shannon Gabriel post his man-of-the-match performance in the first Test against England in Southampton. Gabriel, who played his first Test after almost 12 months, picked up four wickets in the first innings to keep England to 204 and then followed it up with a five-wicket haul in the second innings to set up his side's narrow four-wicket win.

"What Shannon has done in this game is nothing surprising," Holder said after the victory. "Shanon is one of those guys who just keeps doing it. He has a big heart, a massive, massive heart. And he's been through a lot and he wants success badly. His body has not held the way he has liked. To see him back fit, running in and bowling fast is always a pleasing sight. He deserves every bit of success he's had so far in this game."

The 32-year-old was initially only a part of the reserves and was a last minute addition to the squad just days before the Test match. Having been out of action since September last year following an ankle surgery, Gabriel proved his fitness in the warm-up games to force his entry into the squad. "For us it is about just about managing Shannon as best as possible," Holder said.

"He's a rhythm bowler as well. So he needs to get some miles on the legs, and some rhythm into the legs. I know what he's been through, we kept in contact when he was going through rehab. Some stage he was frustrated by how things were going, but he stuck it through. He had a good team behind him in Trinidad, done a lot of work with as well. Again he reaped the success that we all presumed he would have gotten just based on the calibre of bowler he is. We all know when Shannon is fit and healthy, he can be a handful and he proved difficult in this game."

England had a handful lead of 170 runs going into the final day with two more wickets left to add to the target. They could only add 29 more but the chase still seemed a herculean task for West Indies when their top-four batsmen registered single-digit scores.

"To beat England in England is not an easy feat," Holder noted. "We were able to do that when we were here in 2017, so we know what that feels like. But things have changed drastically since then and they are a massive massive unit in their backyard. To start the series this well is very very promising for us. And we feel very proud of the way we performed.

"This morning when I woke up, I wanted to fast forward to the end of the day with us winning. At the start I guess there were a few nerves going through the dressing room. But Roston and Jermaine really really settled those nerves down and got us into a position to a lay foundation. We knew once we had a partnership, the England bowlers would go flat. But credit to England, they threw a lot at us. Stokes, Anderson, Jofra, Mark - they all put in a hell of effort and they were all challenging."

While expressing satisfaction over starting the series on a winning note, Holder conceded that they had a plan to attack the inexperienced England batting lineup that didn't have regular skipper Joe Root in their ranks.

"I think it was really important that we started the series well," he said. "I think England missing Root is a big miss, he's a high quality player. We saw it as an opportunity to really get into their inexperienced batting line up. There was a lot of pressure on Stokes to score and to come big with the likes of young Ollie Pope and Jos Buttler in the lower half, the top order relies a lot on Rory Burns too, because he is quite solid, he soaks up a lot of balls and he makes bowlers fight really really hard for the wickets too. I think for us those four really stood out and we really needed to get them out as early as possible.

"We saw how Zak Crawley played really well but he had Stokes at the other end to form a partnership with, and he had a bit of a partnership with Joe Denly as well. So yes, credit to how well they played. It was no easy Test match. They kept coming, kept running in. To start the series well is a pleasing feeling but 10 tough days still left in the series."

Holder refused to rate this win above the victory at Leeds in 2017 despite claiming earlier that the fourth day's play was one of the best he has been a part of in Test cricket.

He reserved praise for his fast bowling unit for stepping up especially when it appeared at one stage that England would seize complete control of the Test when Zak Crawley and Ben Stokes had a 98-run partnership. "It was a long, hard toil and a hard-fought day for West Indies," Holder said on the fourth day display. "The reason I say it's the best day, it's mainly down to the fact that every single time I asked for an effort from those bowlers, no one said 'I can't or I'm too tired.' They just all kept running in.

"At that stage when Stokes and Zak were batting, the game looked like it was less likely for us to win. We knew we couldn't lose, we back ourselves not to lose...but we wanted to win, we knew how important it was to win this game. So the longer they batted it obviously took time out of the game, maybe put them in a position where they had to think twice about declaring. Maybe after the game at Leeds... their declaration caused a bit of chatter as well. I'm not sure if they would have declared similarly, it was all up to Stokesy. But I think yesterday's effort was by far the best effort I've seen by this group. We kept the energy up all through the day."

Live Home Series
Player Schedule
Points Table Cricket Rankings
Cricket Clothing Cricket Equipment
Cricinfo Apps Download