'I always have a responsibility in this team' - Gayle
Chris Gayle, West Indies' opening batsman, says that he understands the responsibility he carries opening the batting in New Zealand.
"I always have a responsibility in this team," Gayle told the Trinidad & Tobago Express. "I have a job to do. There are younger players in the team who are inexperienced. I have to use my experience and share it with them. Whatever I can offer I will definitely put it forward to them, but at the same time, everyone has to learn quickly and once you get an opportunity, you have to grab it with both hands."
In a career chequered with big hundreds and low scores, Gayle said that he has come to acknowledge the need to play according to circumstances. "You have to adapt to whatever situation there is," he said. "It's not all the time you're going to see Chris Gayle go out there and blast, blast blast for a quick 20. That won't do the team any good. It's just a mental part of being a batsman that you have to work out the situation out there and adapt to it."
Together with Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan - two other players who have been fixtures in the national side over the past few years - Gayle has been entrusted the role of scoring the bulk of runs on West Indies' current tour. With Brian Lara opting out of the initial one-day leg of the tour, Gayle's role becomes more important.
Commenting on the absence of Lara in New Zealand, Sir Vivian Richards said that Test cricket's highest run-scorer would be missed. "A team that has been failing for some time needs its best player," he told the Barbados Nation. "It is not right in my mind that we will have one of the best players ever [missing] when West Indies need the sort of support at this stage, going away from home, playing in New Zealand. We all know New Zealand conditions can be very, very tough. Let us hope that we may consider these sort of things."
Lara's experience of 121 Tests and 248 ODIs would have been vital, Richards added. "I would love more than anything else to see our best team in New Zealand. We have a lot of young, inexperienced players who will be on tour."
The West Indies begin their tour with a Twenty20 international at Eden Park on Thursday before heading to Wellington for the opening match of the one-day series.