West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel insists there is no malice between himself and England captain Joe Root, after a heated exchange between the duo led to a four-match suspension when the teams met in the Caribbean last year.

During the series, Root was picked up on the stump mics responding to an unheard comment from Gabriel. "Don't use it as an insult," he said. "There's nothing wrong with being gay."

Gabriel was charged the next day for an alleged homophobic remark and did not contest the charges.  The footage received widespread attention.  The player was charged with a Level Two offence under article 2.13 of the ICC's Code of Conduct, covering "personal abuse".

Having recently recovered from injury, Gabriel could be in line to face up with Root again when the teams compete in a three-Test series next month.  The bowler has downplayed the incident and has insisted he has long moved past it.

"To be honest that was in the past," Gabriel said. "I don't really think about it too much. Whatever happened or whatever was said, I don't really want to harp on about that, I'm just looking to the future now. I've just come here to play good cricket if selected, and do my best for West Indies cricket,” he added.

"I just think the way they dealt with it was blown way out of proportion," he added. "The story that was told was not entirely true, but I just want to move on and forget that."  

West Indies bowling coach Roddy Estwick is confident that the bowling unit’s steady improvement over the past several years means they are now a match for any team in the world.

The Windies are currently preparing for a return to international cricket with the upcoming tour of England, after a globally enforced break due to the coronavirus pandemic.  Ahead of the series, the regional team is likely to be encouraged by the fact that it once again has a full complement of first choice strike bowlers. The likes of Kemar Roach, Shannon Gabriel, and Alzarri Joseph are all available having recovered from injury.  The regional team’s bowling attack has on occasion shown that they can be a handful for even top batting line-ups.  Against England, in the Caribbean last year, Roach and Holder both claimed four-wicket hauls, with Gabriel and Joseph getting among the wickets as well.  Estwick believes a major difference that has boosted the team's bowling performance in recent years is its level of fitness.

“What we’ve done is to improve our fitness,  now we can sustain pressure,” Estwick said via a news conference.

“If you look back in the 80s, that’s one thing the fast bowlers had, it’s fitness.  Another thing is that they (current players) are now understanding fast bowling.  They have got to that age, Kemar and Shannon they are leading the charge and they are very experienced,” he added.

 “Jason Holder has become a much better Test match bowler in the last two years and Alzarri Joseph is now beginning to show his potential.  So were have four fast bowlers where we can challenge any team in the world.”

West Indies pace bowler Shannon Gabriel will have a good chance of featuring for the final Test squad against England if he can prove his fitness in the coming weeks.

The 32-year-old pace bowler was initially named as the 15th member to the official Test squad for the upcoming tour.  Gabriel, one of the team’s lead strike bowlers, has not played cricket since September of last year after a brief spell with Gloucestershire.  The player was sidelined after suffering an ankle injury that required surgery.

Head coach of the West Indies Phil Simmons, however, recently revealed the player had been training well and would be in contention for a spot in the final day Test squad.

“We have to put this in perspective.  We selected 14, but Shannon, as we know, has come back from injury and being a senior member of the squad in the past two or three years we would have to look at him if he is up to that fitness level heading into the first Test,” Simmons told members of the media on a conference call on Saturday.

Gabriel claimed eight wickets and bowled with plenty of menace when the teams met in the Caribbean last year.  The West Indies won the Test series 2-1.  The player was, however, suspended for five One Day internationals after a verbal exchange with England batsman Joe Root.

Reports have emerged that Cricket West Indies has contacted 29 regional players telling them to prepare for a possible tour of England this coming July.

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