BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – Moments after bowling the West Indies to a huge victory over Zimbabwe, Shane Shillingford called it his “best performance ever” as he celebrated the nine-wicket win. It took the West Indies just two days and two hours to beat the visitors at Kensington Oval as they took a 1-0 lead in the two-match series.
The tall off-spinner marked his return to international cricket with a career-best 6-49 on Thursday as Zimbabwe succumbed for 109 in the second innings. He ended the match with nine wickets. He was well backed by Shannon Gabriel, who bowled with sustained pace and hostility to take 3-10 in his second Test match.
Shillingford said he rated the performance higher than the 10-wicket match haul he had against Australia on his home ground at Windsor Park in Dominica last year.
For the West Indies, it was their fifth consecutive Test win. The previous victories were against New Zealand in Antigua and Jamaica in August, 2012 and against Bangladesh in Dhaka and Khulna last November.
Shillingford said: “I would rate this as my best performance ever. When I got the 10 wickets against Australia last year we didn’t win the match so there wasn’t anything to celebrate. Today, I got six and ended with nine in the match. We have something to celebrate – we won the match big and I’m happy to be part of it. That makes it special!”
Shillingford, who turned 30 last month, played his last Test match in England last June and had to fight his way back into the team. He was very impressive in the WICB Regional 4Day tournament so far this season with 24 wickets in three matches – which included his 300th wicket in first-class cricket.
“I played a couple of games here during the first-class season and picked up wickets. I just gave it my all…I tried to bowl a consistent line first up and then tried to spin the ball as much as possible,” he said.
“Before the match the captain and the coach spoke to us about the importance of this match and the series and the need to win and make it five straight wins. I was confident from the time I came into the match. I always do well when I play at Kensington against Barbados so I came into this match knowing I had a crucial role to play.
Shillingford added: “I was quite surprised to see how helpful the pitch was from the first day so I decided to exploit it. I was able to get spin and bounce and that was great for me. I knew after that all I had to do was get the ball in the right areas and I would get my reward.”