Shannon Gabriel: 'I'm just taking my body back into it easy'
On the mend after an ankle surgery, the West Indies quick wants to lead the attack in England
Even as Cricket West Indies continues to figure out whether the three-Test series in England - in a bio-secure environment - can take place or not, few people are more eager for a bit of on-field action than Shannon Gabriel. The 32-year-old quick underwent a surgery on his right ankle in November last year, and has just completed a six-month rehabilitation programme, and is now hoping to get on that flight to England.
"It's a good feeling always to represent West Indies. It's good to be back out on the park," he told i955FM. "The plan is right now to try to make it to the tour to England - hopefully that comes off. I'm just trying my best to stay positive and I hope everything goes well.
"It has been a long journey since November when I did the surgery on my ankle. Everything is going well, it has been a long process in terms of getting back to running and bowling and stuff like that."
Gabriel's last international appearance was in September 2019, against India, in a two-Test series in which he picked up just four wickets at an average of 56.90. Then his short county stint with Gloucestershire was unimpressive too, as he picked up two wickets in three innings. This was around the time the right ankle started troubling him.
Now, having eased himself back in slowly, Gabriel hopes to be fully ready by July, when the tour is slated to happen. As things stand, the West Indies players are scheduled to leave the Caribbean in the first week of June for a preparatory camp.
"I am trying my best to be as fit as possible so I'm really working hard in terms of my fitness and managing my weight, trying not to get too heavy to put too much strain on my ankle," Gabriel said of his fitness sessions. "So I know once I put in the hard work everything will be ok in the end. I just want to stay positive.
"There has been no high-intensity work, I'm just taking my body back into it easy, taking it one day at a time and not trying to push too hard but it's still long while before the first Test in England and by that time I'm sure I'll be fit and ready."
The process of becoming match ready has also involved reworking his action and run-up to ease pressure on his ankles. "My run-up has probably just tweaked a bit, in terms of my running technique and stuff like that, but I don't think there are many changes," he explained. "Obviously that ankle was getting most of the pressure and obviously I don't want that type of injury to happen again, so I'm trying my best to stay fit so I can stay on the park [longer]."
With the ICC having introduced guidelines with regards to shining the ball and several other physical-distancing measures, Gabriel also expects things to be "mentally taxing" when they return to cricket in the post-Covid-19 era.
"It's going to take a lot. It's going to be mentally taxing on the brain but you have to stay positive. Keep your mind fresh," he said. "I know they [England] are going to be coming at us all guns [blazing] at us, but I know the guys
"Plus plenty of the guys haven't been playing any cricket, so it is going to take us a while to get back there. On the positive side, you're still getting the opportunity to play cricket and represent your country so that in itself should be enough motivation."