Shannon Gabriel, a fast bowler transformed

The trio were in full flow in the Test series against Bangladesh in July, creating relentless pressure on the visiting batsmen. It must have been a soothing sight for those looking back fondly on watching the great West Indies pace batteries of the past.

“It has been a wonderful opportunity [to bowl with Roach and Holder],” Gabriel says. “Jason with his bounce brings a different variation to the attack. Kemar Roach has all the experience and he is a consistent bowler. Does his bit with the ball.

“They have given me the opportunity to express myself. It is a great combination. It gives me the ability to give my own natural game.”

Gabriel has impressed some of his predecessors too. Walsh, West Indies’ all-time highest wicket-taker, is now Bangladesh’s bowling coach. He says Gabriel’s hard work has turned him into a bowler who can change the course of a game.

“He has improved tremendously,” Walsh says. “His fitness level is up there. He has the aggression. I am happy with the way he is bowling. I am probably happy that he didn’t play against us in the second Test. He had a very good spell in the first Test.

“He is the type of bowler who can change the game for you. Big improvement from him and he is getting from strength to strength. I am very happy to see that from a West Indian’s point of view. He is a kid who likes to work hard. I am sure that he will keep improving as his career goes on.”

Walsh has also noticed Gabriel’s improvement in moving the ball, particularly his ability to produce reverse-swing. “[Seam and movement] will happen with experience, and the more you play. He is in in a better place than when he first started. He has a number of Tests under his belt and now he has the composure and confidence.

“Once you are playing, those improvements will come. You can see late reverse-swing from him. He has good control and he knows how to set a batsman up. He is [going] in the right direction.”

Gabriel is full of respect for past fast-bowling greats from the West Indies, and is close to Bishop, a fellow Trinidadian who is now a regular companion in home and away Tests in his capacity as a TV commentator.

“I have always been a great fan of Ian Bishop,” Gabriel says. “One of my close uncles is his friend as well. Must say thanks to him for all the knowledge and advice he has given me. I have kept it, and made it part of my game.”

Gabriel’s is one of the encouraging cricketing stories of recent years, of a player picking himself up from an ordinary start to his international career and turning himself into a match-turning asset, all while thrilling fans of fast bowling around the world. Through it he has remained a humble man, without the frills of most of his contemporaries.

“I started [playing cricket] late but it is something that just happened.” he says. “I was just able to stick with it. To be honest right now, I am living my dream. It is something that I have always wanted to do – playing cricket. I want to be thankful for that.”