St. John’s Antigua- Trinidadian fast bowler Shannon Gabriel has been rewarded for an impressive first class season with a call-up to the West Indies Test squad for the tour of England starting next week.
The 23-year-old right-armer was named on Friday in a 15-man squad which will be led by Darren Sammy, with Kirk Edwards serving as vice-captain.
Gabriel will be joined in the squad by fellow Trinidadian Denesh Ramdin who has been recalled and Jamaican Marlon Samuels, who opted for the Indian Premier League over the just concluded Australia series.
Out-of-form teenaged opener Kraigg Brathwaite has been dropped along with wicketkeeper Carlton Baugh who had a modest series against the Aussies.
Gabriel, who along with batsman Assad Fudadin are the only uncapped players in the squad, took 24 wickets at an average of 25 n the Regional Four-Day Championship to help Trinidad and Tobago to the semi-finals.
“We are going to England early in the season, where the conditions tend to favour the quick bowlers more than the spinners,” chief selector Clyde Butts said.
“Young Gabriel continues to impress the selectors in both regional and A-Team cricket, and we field it is a good time to introduce him to the team.
“We feel he will be an asset to the team in England and has a bright future in West Indies cricket.”
Baugh, meanwhile, has made way for Ramdin after an ordinary series with both bat and gloves where he got just 83 runs from five innings and missed a few chances behind the stumps.
Ramdin, however, averages a mediocre 22.80 from 42 Tests since making his debut seven years ago, and has managed just 89 runs from his last nine Test innings.
His 341 runs for T&T in the first class season were enough to convince Butts and his selection panel.
“Baugh has been good behind the stumps, but his batting has not quite lived up to expectations, hence the selection of Ramdin,” Butts explained.
“Before he got injured in the camp prior to the Digicel Series against Australia, Denesh was showing good form both behind the stumps and with the bat.”
Surprisingly, left-hander Kieran Powell has gotten the nod despite a lean patch in recent months. He has a highest score of 40 in his last 11 innings for West Indies.
Like Powell, Brathwaite has been short of runs and despite a half-century in the first Test, has failed to score in three of four innings since.
“We have got to continue to build for the future and we believe that Barath and Powell have bright futures in the game,” Butts pointed out.
“We also feel this way about Kraigg Brathwaite, but he too, has lost some of his conviction and the selectors also feel playing him in the A-Team against India-A will give him the chance to regain that confidence.
“None of the other openers in the region have stood out and we are hoping to strengthen this part of our cricket in future regional tournaments and the A-Team tours.”
Samuels’ return, meanwhile, will further strengthen a middle order that was exposed against Australia.
The right-hander was short of form in the limited overs series against Australia but has been one of the side’s most dependable batsmen since his return from international exile, with four half-centuries in Tests last year.
“Marlon since his return to the team has not done badly for us and the selectors feel that he is an asset to the team. He had asked to miss the Australia matches for a stint at IPL,” Butts said.
The Test phase of the tour runs from May 5 to Jun 11.
West Indies open with a three-day match against Sussex starting May 5 and will engage England Lions, the country’s A side, in a four-day game from May 10, before the first Test bowls off at Lord’s on May 17.