India in West Indies 2011

Gayle shadow still looms large over series

Sriram Veera in Port of Spain

June 3, 2011

Comments: 65 | Text size: A | A

Chris Gayle relaxes during a training session on the eve of West Indies' quarter-final against Pakistan, World Cup, Mirpur, March 22, 2011
There's no running away from Chris Gayle © Associated Press
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Chris Gayle's shadow hung over the press conference. It was Suresh Raina who nailed Gayle's impact in a delightful moment of humour-infused candour. The question was a direct one: Are you relieved or are you disappointed that Gayle isn't playing? "To be honest I am a bit relieved at the moment," Raina said, as the press room filled with laughter.

The mood, though, turned sombre when the Gayle issue was put forward to the West Indies captain and the coach. Uncomfortable silence was punctuated by a note of defiance. It's an issue that has dogged West Indies for a while now and seems to be heading into a cul-de-sac. And so necks craned forward when the coach Ottis Gibson, who is alleged to have had problems with Gayle, was asked for his opinion. Gibson paused before he tried to be diplomatic. "There is a lot being said. I have left the board to deal with it and have tried to focus on cricket. I have been doing that since the Gayle issue started." The questioner persisted. Do you think both sides have been stubborn? "I don't know." Silence.

It was Darren Sammy's turn next and he chose to take a detour around the question. "It's an opportunity for all the other guys to perform." Diplomacy then gave way to pride. "We won a Twenty20 and a Test match against Pakistan. We have not done it since 2009 and didn't win for 17 Tests. We have managed to draw the series at home against a higher-ranked team. The guys represented West Indies proudly and played their best. We are looking again to play as a team and do well." No mention of Gayle in there. Conspiracy theorists will spin it the way they want and Sammy fans will say there's little else he, as a captain, could have said.

Later, as the conference ended and Gibson was on his way out, he was again asked by couple of journalists about the Gayle issue. Do you think the board will arrive at a compromise and Gayle be picked for the third ODI? "They probably will." How are you going to react to that situation when Gayle comes back into the team? Pat came the reply: "I don't have a choice."

The rest of the conference was mundane. Raina and Duncan Fletcher talked about how this was a good opportunity for the youngsters in the team, Gibson and Sammy said they were looking forward to testing their skills against India. Raina said all the right things. "As long as you are playing for your country you get goosebumps. We have a responsibility to do well as the world champions. We will play our natural game and prepare for every match in a good way." Sammy, too, was upbeat. "Playing the No.1 team in the world should be motivating to any player. To do best against the best".

Even as the press meet was on, it rained outside. The covers were on and the Indian team practiced largely indoors. More rain is forecast for tomorrow.

There was one further tricky question that awaited Sammy. It was a direct question about his place in the Test side and how he was handling the growing feeling that he wasn't fit to be in the playing XI. Sammy leaned forward and looked at the questioner. "I go out and do what I have to do. Check the stats and stuff; I have done quite well as a Test cricketer. Whenever I step on to the field, I have West Indian cricket at heart. Everyone is entitled to their opinions but I have the support of my team. I believe in my own ability and I just try to do my best. I try my best. When I step on the field I try to play cricket for all the fans who want to us to get back on top."

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 16:10 GMT)

Who says Gayle isn't serious about his cricket, not because onde does not show that much emotion means he is not passionate. Check your stats again, 1. Gayle never really shone until this year @ the IPL thus he was not retained. 2. After playing 20 T20, his aggregate was 9 runs more than all he made in IPL 4. 3. No one else has as many runs or close to it in the current team. 4. He has as many ODI100 as the great one LARA. and I could go on, so just read and compare they are all there. Stop being insular and recognize that our problems lie @ 50% the WICB, 25% The Selectors, the remainder fallsbetween the Players Association and some of the players.

Posted by delboy on (June 4, 2011, 13:17 GMT)

@Darius, do you think the answer might be as a result of the rapport he had with the Bangalore Coaching staff??? He was 'BOUGHT' in to do a job the way he knows best i.e. PLAY freely.

Posted by lyl67 on (June 4, 2011, 13:01 GMT)

The West Indies management doesn't act as managers, they act more like spoilt children who hold grudges. A player indisipline should be dealt with, punished if need be serve the appropiate punishment, they should not be left on the sidelines not knowing what happens next. The management should keep in contact with the players ensuring that they are fit and ready for selection. A players injury should be monitored at all times.

Posted by delboy on (June 4, 2011, 13:00 GMT)

All I can say Gayle is still 'young' enough to decide whether he wishes to play test cricket for his country again time is on his side to neutralize for emergin teams like Zimbabwe, Ireland or even establish teams like South Africa, NZ or England.

Posted by StJohn on (June 4, 2011, 12:38 GMT)

And again in defence of Darren Sammy, I just find it impossible to believe that someone with a bowling average of 27 and a strike rate of 59, with 4 five wicket hawls in 13 Tests and a useful batting average of 17 is as bad as some here are suggesting. Maybe he is never going to blow the best teams apart, but he's hardly the disaster that some of the commentators here are making out. He's a useful cricketer who probably needs a few more Tests against tougher teams before we can really say how good (or bad) he is. But on stats, passion and commitment alone - he can't be such a bad pick. I would think that a calm, unifying force is the right captain for WI at the moment - not some big ego who is maybe more talented but who puts money and fame above the privilege of playing for WI. Why do I care? I remember Sammy's debut against England a few years back and he was fantastic.

Posted by StJohn on (June 4, 2011, 12:24 GMT)

The Light - that's interesting. But rather than say who shouldn't be in the team, use this space effectively & say who should be in it then. And if your own Boards are not picking your most talented players, then (1) that is highly peculiar - why not? & (2) maybe passionate WI supporters should mobilise opinion & increase pressure for change. I would observe though that the best domestic players don't necessarily make the best international cricketers: I believe for example that even Shane Warne's record at State level is markedly inferior to his international record. Secondly, whilst I mean no disrespect by saying that WI's talent pool is low ( I want WI to do well!), the simple truth is that WI have been poor now for over 10 years which tends to suggest that either WI players are not generally as good as they once were or others have improved. If WI is so bursting at the seams with world beating players (as once was the case), surely you'd be getting generally better results?

Posted by xxxneilxxx on (June 4, 2011, 12:21 GMT)

this could be an interestin eleven...Simmons (wk), Gayle, Sarwan, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Bravo(cpt) , Taylor, Roach, Edwards, Rampaul, Bishoo.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

india will win this will match and raina will smack the windies.

Posted by   on (June 4, 2011, 12:12 GMT)

I WILL GIVE U FIVE REASONS WHY THE INDIANS ARE THE BEST TEAM IN THE CRICKET WORLD TODAY: 1. Their cricketers are not cash followers, their players dont get on like cash addicts, insted they raise the cash and keep their crickets at home. 2. Their country comes first and second, if some players dont make the first team final 11 they stick around in case an injury so as to get a call up which means their players are alway available. 3. They never want to quit playing for their country no matter their age or how much they have played for example look at tendulka retirement seems a long way away and ganguly would still play if got a call up.4. Their players respect management and their decisions tendulka and dhoni would play even though kaif was captain and 5. The indians believe whoever is representing them dosent matter, they will still win so they will throw all their support behind their guys and the team. WI players and fans should follow that example.

Posted by REXYCP123 on (June 4, 2011, 12:07 GMT)

EVERYBODY SPEAKS ABOUT DARREN SAMMY'S PLACE IN TEST TEAM OR EVEN ODI TEAM HE HAS DONE WELL IN TEST AVERAGINF 27 WITH THE BALL THAT IS NOT BAD AT ALL INFACT IT IS GREAT AVERAGE FOR SUCH A BOWLER CHECK ZAK AND BHAJI THEY AVERAGE IN 3O'S EVEN BEST BOWLERS OF THIS GENERATION DOEST AVERAGE IN 20'S YES HE IS BIT WEAK ON TALENT BUT NO BODY IN THE WEST INDIES TEAM IS AS PASSIONATE AS HIM THIS GUY GIVES IT ALL PLAYS HARD BACKS HIS PLAYERS AND HE IS GOOD CAPTAIN TOO

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