Gayle diagnosed with grade two groin strain
Chris Gayle has arrived in South Africa carrying a grade two groin strain that could keep him out of action for the Dolphins for at least another week. Gayle is contracted to the Durban-based franchise for the entire MiWAY T20 Challenge but missed their first match on Sunday because of an injury sustained while playing for the Barisal Burners in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL).
Gayle's injury was assessed in Durban on Monday, and both he and the Dolphins are remaining tight lipped about when he will be fit to play. The usual timeframe for an injury of this description to heal is two to three weeks and Gayle has already had a week's healing time.
"We will have to look at how the rehab goes," Gayle said in Durban. "I'm feeling a bit better. The last couple of days I was feeling a bit on the negative side, but I'm walking much better than when the injury happened. It's slowly progressing but, as a sportsman, I have to look after myself properly and try and get back on the park as quickly as possible. We will take each day as it comes."
The Dolphins play three matches this week, on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, and then have a four-day break before their next match on March 2nd. They opened their campaign with a three-run win over the new seventh franchise, Impi, on February 19. Gayle is their only overseas signing after Australia quick Shaun Tait pulled out with an elbow injury.
Gayle is aware that he is the marquee player of the event, which has ten internationals spread across the seven franchises, and is determined to live up to the hype. "I know that the expectations are very high. I try not to overdo things and keep it as simple as possible," he said. "It's cricket and you never know when you are going to have a bad patch but once I get a start in a particular series, I try and maintain it as much as possible. You have to try and be consistent and score as many runs as you can."
While Gayle recovers from his injury, he will still be involved with Dolphins the camp. Interim coach Lance Klusener, who called him a "legend", said Gayle would play an important role in mentoring some of the young players in the squad. Gayle has played in 20-over leagues across the globe, having participated in Australia's Big Bash, Zimbabwe's Stanbic T20 and the BPL in just the last three months.
After the tournament in South Africa, he will play in the IPL. It's this vast experience that the Dolphins hope to gain from and Gayle seems more than willing to share. "I try and deal with the mental aspect of my game first of all, make sure that I am very strong upstairs and ready for the challenges," Gayle said.
One of the people who may be most interested in Gayle's tales is not a member of the Dolphin squad at all. Richard Levi, who shares the record with Gayle for the highest individual Twenty20 international score and broke his record for the most sixes in an innings on Sunday, plays for rival franchise, the Cobras.
Gayle heard the news of Levi's innings on his arrival in South Africa and announced his thoughts on Twitter.
Just came offa long flight...Then told by a police officer my T20 record gone, I smile- That's good for the game! Well Done Richard Levi!!— Chris Gayle (@henrygayle) February 19, 2012
He was full of kind words for Levi even days after. "Hopefully he can go from strength to strength, and do bigger and better innings in the future. He will have a lot on his shoulders now," Gayle said. "I've been there, you might score a lot of runs on the international scene as a youngster but there is a lot of technology involved now and it's going to get harder.
"So you have got to learn how to manipulate bowlers. They are working you out, so you have to try and be a step ahead of them." Levi, who returns home after Wednesday's Twenty20 against New Zealand, will have the opportunity to meet Gayle on February 26, when the Cobras play the Dolphins in Paarl.
Edited by Nikita Bastian
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent