Dyson puts pressure on latecomer Gayle
Chris Gayle finally arrived in England two days before the first Test at Lord's and will face huge pressure to perform with coach John Dyson clearly far from pleased about his captain's timing.
Gayle's flight landed at 6.45am and he trained with the squad during the afternoon. However, regardless of the comfort he will have flown in, and the benefit of South Africa's time difference to the UK being minimal, he has left himself facing huge criticism if he doesn't lead from the front.
Gayle, along with Fidel Edwards who arrived yesterday, were given No Objection Certificates (NOC) from the West Indies board until May 2, but Gayle was granted two further days so that he could squeeze in one more match with the Kolkata Knight Riders. It was a decision that Dyson had no say in.
"I just have to work with that," he said. "We thought the original NOC was the barest minimum but you just have to work with what happens. Our board considered that an extra day or two didn't matter so that's that. It's one of the things these days that you have to work with.
"We all knew the IPL was on and we knew the players would be arriving when they have. Ideally you would have your full squad here, but you have to work with how it is. Medical guys say you need time to recover from flights, coaches say you need practice and then you get players saying they can handle not doing that. I suppose time will tell."
Gayle was one of the players most unhappy that this tour was shoe-horned into the schedule at the last minute after the players had already signed IPL deals, but it certainly doesn't create a glowing image when a captain feels he only needs to arrive 48 hours before a major Test. However, it isn't the first time that a West Indian player has cut it fine arriving for a Test as last year Dwayne Bravo was flown in on a private jet on the eve of the opening match against Australia in Jamaica.
"Chris is a big-match player," added Dyson. "He handles pressure very well and has played well in all formats of the game over the last 12 months. He says he is in good form." But Dyson clearly needs convincing that what Gayle says can be translated onto the field.
One bonus is that the heel problem Gayle experienced in South Africa which required a runner against Bangalore Royal Challengers isn't a concern. The West Indies top order desperately needs their captain to perform after failing to adapt to English conditions during their warm-up matches.
They crashed to a 10-wicket defeat against the England Lions, which followed on from being bowled out for 146 against Essex. Shivnarine Chanderpaul, as is the norm, has found some form and Lendl Simmons has played well but apart from that it is slim pickings. Even Ramnaresh Sarwan has started edging a few to the slips.
"That's a concern," Dyson admitted. "Our only opener here so far on this trip to get runs is Lendl Simmons and he has played quite well. He also finds conditions far different but has managed to make the adjustments. It's difficult for the guys coming out of the Caribbean. They get hit by what they think is very cold conditions and then they get totally different wickets. Those who haven't had experience here do take time."
However, Dyson still retained belief that his side can pull their fortunes around to make a competitive series. "When we get the full side on the park for the Test, our big match players will be in the side together for the Test and that's what we have been working towards." A performance from their captain would be the perfect start and could also build a few bridges along the way.
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo