England v West Indies, 1st npower Test, Lord's May 4, 2009

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Paul on May 5, 2009, 15:03 GMT

    I agree with Patrick Clarke. There is no reason to play the Windies this season at all.Is the world 20/20 and an Ashes series not enough? The most sensible idea would have been 6 Ashes tests all would be sell outs which is not the case for the two Windies tests.

  • VALENTINE on May 5, 2009, 14:48 GMT

    I think that the West Indies Cricket Board has brought this upon themselves. They new fully well that MR.Gayle and company would be hard pressed to make the first Test because of the conflict with the schedule of the IPL AND THE TOUR of England, yet they sanctioned the tour. This does not make sense. They were trying to eat their cake and have it at the same time. This is bad administration by the board. I still wish the Team the best of luck.

  • Ravish on May 5, 2009, 14:40 GMT

    Gayle could have actually squeezed one more game in IPL against Delhi before the test series started.

  • Sean on May 5, 2009, 14:34 GMT

    All this nonesense and kerfuffle over issues that may or may not come to pass - Can Gayle perform or not? Lets wait and see. Concerned Cricketer is spot on - Gayle has many commitments - WICB should have forseen this. Gayle the man has no concerns about it - I have flown S.A to London... What Jet lag ? Alistair Cook was draughted in from W.I to play for england on the Sub Continent and scored an hundered. So perhaps all cricketers should be thrown a bit off their usual schedule to keep them on the cutting edge. Beefy used to keep tipsy and play well. Cricket is a game where the player can do with a bit of luck no matter how much one prepares. Edge through the slips, edge when there is no slip. Drop catch , etc etc. Hits the gaps when batting, doesnt hit the gaps. Its not like tennis where you get very little luck. Sure these guys have loads of skill, but give the benefit to Gayle - he is after all the batsmen.

  • Derek on May 5, 2009, 13:59 GMT

    It is professional to arrive 'on time' Gayle is in the country well ahead of the start of the 1st test. If I was Dyson , rather than having warm-up games which are being truncated by the weather and what looks more like an agreed early succumbing to avail all the lions for their counties last Sunday.. I would have the whole team fly in on the eve of the first test having guaranteed they get more than exposure to the atroscity of the May shivers. Hurry on WI and past England in the ratings and see how soon England start campaigning for Zimbabwe's return to prop them up at the foot of the table; after-all they were the original opponents of this fixture....

  • Mathew on May 5, 2009, 12:49 GMT

    It was good of Edwards and Gayle to turn up even though "this tour was shoe-horned into the schedule at the last minute after the players had already signed IPL deals". WICB should have acted more responsibly knowing that its players had signed IPL deals. After all, WICB had given permission to its players to participate in the IPL. They need to lean to honour their players commitments.

  • Simon on May 5, 2009, 11:31 GMT

    May the 6th is a stupid time to start a test series I agree but the fact is that sometimes you just have to get on with it and have pride in your country and put that first, especially if you're the captain. Gayle has shown himself to be extremely unprofessional and I know Dyson is really fuming by Gayle's decision just like I know a number of WI fans are. For me the test and ODI series in the WI showed up a lot of weaknesses in Gayle's captaincy. The way he just let the test in Antigua drift, the horrible defensive tactics in T&T, both of which almost came back to bite him and the D/L debacle in the first ODI which was partly his fault and which he took no responsibility for. He is a fantastic batsman and gives a lot to the team but for the good of WI cricket he needs to grow up, stop drifting off and lead the rest of the team from the front in showing a professional attitude.

  • Patrick on May 5, 2009, 9:57 GMT

    Regardless of the pros and cons of the IPL, the 6th May is an utterly ridiculous time of the year to start a Test Series in England. There is far too much international cricket and the ECB need to wake up before the empty stadiums in many parts of the world start to become a feature in England too. The scheduling of this Series devalues Test Cricket and is an insult to the West Indian tourists.

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