Shannon Gabriel’s nine-wicket haul and a gritty 95 by Jermaine Blackwood ensured that West Indies started their post-covid cricket journey with a brilliant four-wicket win against England at the bio-secure Ageas Bowl in Southampton.
It is only the second time in this century [Edgbaston, 2000] that West Indies have won the first Test of the Wisden Trophy and it was fitting that skipper Jason Holder was at the non-striking end when the winning runs were scored.
It was an all-round performance by the West Indies, one that was spearheaded by their fast bowling quartet-led by Shannon Gabriel. Gabriel claimed nine wickets in the game, including a five-wicket haul in the second innings, a spell that really threw open the game on the fourth evening, and was fittingly chosen as the ‘Player of the Match’
Shannon Gabriel recorded match figures of 9-137
After having claimed four wickets in the first innings, Gabriel bowled with patience and sustained hostility in the second, claiming the likes of Dom Sibley  before running through England’s lower-middle-order to ensure that the West Indies had just 200 to chase in the 4th innings.
With Jofra Archer and Mark Wood breathing fire, even that looked an arduous task but a dodged 154-ball 95 by Jermaine Blackwood, along with the likes of Roston Chase , Shane Dowrich  and Jason Holder [14*] ensured that the hard work of Shannon Gabriel did not go up for a smoke.
Here’s what Shannon Gabriel said in the post-match presentation:
‘I wasn’t doubtful about my fitness. I knew I would play. I knew the work that I put in would take care of itself. I am still a bit stiff, but there are a few days to recover for the next Test match. Based on their workload, the fast bowlers I mean, they should be able to come through, depending on the recovery. However, the guys are pretty fit for the series. The guys were confident coming here after the win in the Caribbean last year, and we knew if we prepared well, we would be able to perform,’ Shannon Gabriel said.
The second Test of the three-match series will be start at Old Trafford from Thursday [July 16].