Australian news June 29, 2011

Gayle, Warner sign with Sydney Thunder

ESPNcricinfo staff

Chris Gayle and David Warner will form a dream opening partnership for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League after Gayle knocked back a $250,000 offer from the Perth Scorchers. The Thunder, based at ANZ Stadium, were the fastest out of the blocks after the contract window opened at 9am on Thursday, confirming both major signings within the opening hour.

"There is no doubt that signing Chris Gayle is a massive boost for the Thunder," the team's general manager, John Dyson, said. "Having worked with him when I was coach of the West Indies, I know that he brings a stack of experience and the sort of match-winning ability that only a few players have. To have an opening partnership of Chris Gayle and David Warner is something that all cricket fans should be excited about."

"[Warner] is a match-winner. David has a great track record at ANZ Stadium and we think he represents what the Thunder is all about: passion and excitement. We look forward to him thrilling Thunder fans with his hitting this summer."

Gayle has spent the past two summers with Western Australia in the Big Bash, but turned down the chance to return to Perth with the Scorchers. He said he was thrilled be heading for Sydney to resume his working relationship with Dyson.

"Having worked well with John Dyson in the West Indies, I was impressed with his plans for the Thunder and I think the team will have a great chance to win this competition," Gayle said. "I have good memories of playing at ANZ Stadium and I look forward to walking out to open the batting with David Warner when the season starts."

Each of the eight city-based sides has a $1 million salary cap and must sign 18 players, the first 14 of whom must be confirmed over the next three weeks. The brutal combination of Gayle and Warner will make an enormous dent in the Thunder's budget, given the hefty price-tag that Gayle rejected from the Scorchers.

"There is no doubt that Chris is one of the most dangerous Twenty20 players in world cricket and it would have been great to have him on board with the Scorchers," Mickey Arthur, the Scorchers coach, said. "But there are limitations within the salary cap and securing one player but running the risk of losing talented young players in the process is simply not an option when you are trying to build a team from scratch.

"We have made the decision to invest in our local stars, whilst also entering the market for two outstanding international recruits. We are very confident we have the mix right and look forward to making several exciting announcements in the coming days."

Each team can sign up to two overseas stars, although there is room to replace a player who has to leave due to international commitments, so more than two could be rotated during the tournament. The other early signing on Thursday came from the Brisbane Heat, who confirmed the fast bowler Ryan Harris would be part of their squad.