West Indies seam attack could remain unchanged despite gruelling schedule

Assistant coach Roddy Estwick backs Gabriel, Joseph for deciding third Test against England

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
West Indies' management will trust their frontline seamers to be honest about their ability to get through a third Test match against England in the space of as many weeks, but are confident that there are no major injury concerns heading into the final match of the series at Emirates Old Trafford.
While England opted to field a completely different seam attack in the second Test, bringing in Stuart Broad, Sam Curran and Chris Woakes for James Anderson, Jofra Archer and Mark Wood, West Indies went in unchanged, and their bowlers toiled for 162 overs in the first innings.
Shannon Gabriel and Alzarri Joseph both left the field at various points with niggles, but assistant coach Roddy Estwick said that there were "no major injuries" to report ahead of Friday's decider.
"The thing about our seam department is that they're very experienced," Estwick said. "We'll trust them. We'll sit down with them and we'll have a discussion. They must have been pulling up quite well because Shannon was ready to go into the nets today and have a bowl. The rain curtailed that but I think they'll be fine.
"We'll try to get them to stay off their feet and to get the adequate rest and the treatment that they need, because come Friday there's no second-guessing. We've got to be ready, and we can't have any excuses.
"If we had rested Shannon Gabriel for the (second) Test match after getting nine wickets (in the first) and had gone on to lose that Test, people would have been saying 'Shannon got nine wickets, why did you rest him?' It's 20:20 vision, it's hindsight. We can't keep looking back and saying 'we should have done this or that'. Just because England have done it and it proved successful doesn't mean that it would have worked for us."
Gabriel in particular looked stiff and sore at different points during the second Test, struggling for rhythm in his first spell and leaving the field clutching his groin on the second day. But Estwick said that his attitude to fitness had been impressive since his ankle injury last year, and backed him to get through the final Test.
"Obviously Shannon was injured just before the lockdown in the region, but he was able to put some training in," Estwick said. "Once I was able to gauge from the 2km run and the time he did as soon as we arrived in England, I knew his fitness was commendable.
"Shannon is a very hard-working individual. The key thing for him is to rest and recover. It's a short turnaround, and he's an important member for us. He's an experienced player now, and we've got to make sure that he gets the right rest and gets his treatment in or whatever he needs to make sure he's on the park on Friday."
Estwick said that Joseph's injury - he went off with pain in his right elbow in the second Test - would be monitored on a "day-by-day" basis.
"We know the injury he had, but you could see that he bowled in the second innings on the last morning. He had a bowl and he looked quite well.
"The physio is going to keep us updated, but again, we're going to trust the players. You've got to trust them to sit down and have an honest discussion, find out where they're at and then make a decision."
The two back-up seamers in the 15-man squad are Chemar Holder and allrounder Raymon Reifer, but it may well be tempting for West Indies to pick Rahkeem Cornwall, the offspinner, as a second spin option after Roston Chase's success in the first Test. The selectors may yet add a batsman - either Joshua Da Silva or Shayne Moseley - to the squad from the reserves amid concerns over John Campbell and Shai Hope's form, but no decision has been taken as yet.
Cornwall took a ten-wicket haul in his most recent Test appearance, against Afghanistan last November, and while Estwick pointed out that the conditions were very different, he said that Cornwall had looked good in training.
"We'll have a look at it - he'll come under discussion, I'm sure. Rahkeem has been preparing well so if he's given the opportunity, I'm sure he will go well. We'll try to make sure we get the best combination from those 15."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98