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January 8, 2014
Chris Gayle has said that he will "skip" joining up with Dolphins for South Africa's domestic Ram Slam T20 Challenge, as he is still recovering from injury. Gayle announced in a television interview during the Big Bash League match between Sydney Thunder and Brisbane Heat that he would not be travelling to Durban, instead focusing on making a return for West Indies' regional 50-over competition, which begins at the end of January.
This is the second time Gayle has withdrawn from Dolphins, after a similar situation two seasons ago. Gayle originally signed with Dolphins for the 2011-12 tournament but did not play a game. On that occasion, he arrived in South Africa carrying an injury, received treatment in Durban and then left when it became apparent that he would not recover in time.
This time, Gayle's participation was thrown into doubt when he tore his hamstring during an ODI against India in November. He was initially expected to be out of action for up to five weeks, but has still not returned to full fitness.
Gayle took no part in West Indies' ongoing series against New Zealand either and last week, Dwayne Bravo confirmed that Gayle would not be playing in the upcoming T20s because he "has a while to go" with his recovery.
In a statement released by Dolphins, Gayle said: "I am devastated not to be able to join up with the Sunfoil Dolphins this year. It's the second time I have been unable to play with them because of injury so it's extremely frustrating. I put everything into my rehab program and really hoped I'd be given the all clear. I know how much planning had been done by Jesse Chellan and Lance Klusener which makes this even more disappointing. I wish the guys all the best with their campaign and hopefully it's third time lucky should I have the opportunity to play for the Dolphins in the future."
Despite the injury, Dolphins had been expecting Gayle to arrive in Durban next Wednesday. On Tuesday, the franchise tweeted: "The countdown to Chris Gayle arriving has started. Expected 15th Jan. Get ready to give @henrygayle a warm Dbn welcome."
That situation has since changed. Challan, the Dolphins CEO, said: "We received confirmation from Chris' agent today that his rehab and recovery has not progressed as well as they had hoped. Estimates are that he will only return to full fitness by early Feb. It's a real pity for all concerned. Our players and fans alike were really looking forward to seeing this global star in action in Durban. But this is part and parcel of international sport. We wish Chris a speedy recovery and every success in the year ahead."
With Shahid Afridi already pulling out from joining Knights due to family reasons, Gayle's no-show is a double blow for the competition which was aiming for a much larger foreign presence.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala