Performance of the Day: Shannon Gabriel
The young West Indian quick showed skill and character
Having been at the mercy of the England batsmen on the second day, the West Indies bowlers produced a fine performance, collecting the last seven wickets for 132 runs.
On the previous day, the ball did not swing or seam and Caribbean bowlers used to exploiting bounce in the pitch were emasculated. But the conditions had improved considerably. Swing and seam were plentiful and the England batsmen received a searching examination of technique in the morning.
This is one of the mysteries of cricket. The movement may have been down to the ball, as some nuts simply swing more than others. But more likely, the muggier, warmer conditions made the ball move in the air more than the breezy, cool weather of the second day.
Whatever the reason, the West Indies quicks soon had a spring in their step. Roach nipped it around, Fidel Edwards got his outswinger swerving past the outside edge, and the debutant, Shannon Gabriel, kept it as tight as he had on the previous day, but was more threatening.
The 6ft 4in Gabriel was unfortunate not to take a wicket earlier in the innings. He has bustled in enthusiastically and bowled a consistently full length. Renowned as a hostile, if somewhat raw 90mph bowler, who relies on bounce, he has shown maturity by concentrating on Bresnan-like consistency.
The rewards for his patience came late in the England innings. Matt Prior was gated by a full ball angling in to the stumps, which brought him a maiden wicket. Swann, too, was defeated by another full, straight ball, before Bell gifted him a well-deserved third wicket with an uncontrolled pull shot.
Gabriel, who hails from Trinidad and Tobago, was included in the first intake to the West Indies High Performance Centre back in 2010 and credits the programme with strengthening his mental resolve, improving his fitness and developing his personality.
He was planning to play for Barrow CC in the Northern League when he was called up to the squad for this tour. The voices of knowledgeable greats in the Caribbean convinced the selectors to take a punt on him. Both Curtly Ambrose and Colin Croft predict a bright future for Gabriel and say he has the ability to become genuinely fast.
Gabriel may well not play in the next Test match at Trent Bridge, which starts on Friday. Ravi Rampaul should come back into contention after his neck injury and the West Indies will surely not leave out offspinner Shane Shillingford again. But Gabriel has done enough to suggest he has the character to develop into a fine performer at this level.