Sammy delight at Gayle's return
Darren Sammy did his best to conceal a big and wide smile but was not shy to admit how happy he would be to see Chris Gayle re-enter the West Indies dressing room soon. Gayle was part of the 15-man squad announced on Sunday by the Caribbean selectors for the three-match ODI series and the solitary Twenty20 to be played in England from June 16.
Gayle's inclusion brought to an end the bitter dispute between him and the WICB, which started immediately after last year's World Cup and kept him out of international cricket for 15 months. But both parties cleared the "residual" issues during a meeting in St Vincent, which was attended by Gayle, Julian Hunte (WICB president) along with West Indies Players' Association chief executive Michael Hall. Also present were Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St Vincent, and Baldwin Spencer, the Antigua & Barbuda Premier, both facilitators instrumental in resolving the issue.
"I think we have a very exciting one-day team with the inclusion of Chris Gayle," Sammy said. "Our previous ODI and Twenty20 series against Australia was very good for us; we drew both series. So with guys like Chris and Dwayne Smith adding more power, I am very excited, but I have to focus on this Test. After this is over, we will focus on the ODI series." It is understood that Gayle along with the other players picked for the one-dayers, would join the West Indies squad in Birmingham on June 9.
In his first press conference on this tour, at Hove, Sammy mentioned that if and when Gayle comes back, he would need to get used to the "hardworking culture" put in place by Ottis Gibson, the West Indies coach. Today Sammy was more lenient, saying Gayle would easily slip into the team environment without much fuss. "He is a professional and will do what is necessary for the team," Sammy said.
Last month, Gayle decided to forsake his contract with the Somerset, as it clashed with the ODI series in order to commit himself to West Indies cricket. That was an important step which convinced the WICB that he was serious about his comeback. For all the positive speak that Sammy and his troops have so far uttered on this trip, the West Indies captain knows he needs able and experienced generals like Gayle and Chanderpaul on his side if West Indies have to finally start seizing opportunities.
"It is good to have him back," Sammy said. "We all know what he has done for us in the past, and hopefully, he can come into the squad and pass on the experience to the younger players because he has been a phenomenal limited-overs player for us. We expect to win this upcoming series because looking at this squad, we should pose a serious challenge to England and win games."
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo