County news August 27, 2015

Worcestershire gamble on Gabriel

ESPNcricinfo staff

Shannon Gabriel played against England in the Caribbean in April © Getty Images

Worcestershire have brought in West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel for two Championship matches in a late toss of the dice intended to save their Division One status.

Gabriel replaces Saeed Ajmal, who was due to leave after Worcestershire's game against Sussex. Ajmal's impact has been limited since he was forced to remodel an illegal action and he has only taken only 16 wickets at 48.50 in a season in which three Worcestershire seam bowlers - Jack Shantry, Joe Leach and Charlie Morris - have carried a heavy workload.

Ajmal will return to Pakistan after his Worcestershire contract expires next week, leaving Gabriel free to step in away to Durham and at home to Middlesex, subject to the granting of a No Objection Certificate from the WICB.

Moghees Sheikh, Saeed Ajmal's manager, told ESPNcricinfo*: "There was no sacking or early termination of Saeed Ajmal's contract as some media are reporting. His contract with Worcestershire is until September 4 as he will be leaving for Hajj the day after his return to Pakistan next week.

"Worcestershire had wanted him to play for them for the whole season but he had decided and agreed with Worcestershire prior to signing the contract this season that he wouldn't be able to play the whole season and would return to Pakistan prior to the end of the season."

Worcestershire, second bottom in Division One, lie four points behind Sussex, with Somerset a further nine points ahead.

Gabriel, 27, has played 14 Tests for the West Indies and made his debut against England at Lord's three years ago. He has taken 32 wickets for his country at an average of 35.81 and was part of the Windies side which took on Australia in June ahead of the Ashes. He has most recently been playing for St. Lucia Zouks in the Caribbean Premier League.

He is the latest of several West Indies internationals to play for Worcestershire in recent years including Kemar Roach in 2011 and Andre Russell in 2013.

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: "We are hoping with the extra pace he has, a 90 miles an hour bowler, he will just give us something slightly different. We are looking forward to him playing a part for the last two matches and hopefully making a difference.

"It is not easy for any bowler just coming in for two games but if you are looking for someone who can make an impact as a strike bowler, then Shannon is an ideal man.

"I've admired his pace and he has played in some games where he has bowled quicker balls in the day than Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc so that is testament to what pace he has got.

"We just hope he can repeat some of that in the Championship fixtures. The ball tends to move around a bit at Durham so that we might be a good option there and we will see what we've got at Worcester for the last game."

*August 28, 3pm BST - This story was updated with a quote from Ajmal's manager