West Indies v New Zealand, 1st Test, Antigua July 24, 2012

Gayle's Test return 'very exciting' - Sammy

ESPNcricinfo staff
29

The West Indies captain Darren Sammy is confident the return of Chris Gayle will be the top-order boost his side needs to post winning totals in the Test series against New Zealand. Gayle is set to play his first Test since December 2010 when the two teams walk out in Antigua on Wednesday, and his absence over the past 18 months has left an enormous hole at the top of the order.

During the standoff between Gayle and the WICB, the West Indies Test side used five different opening batsmen and between them they managed only three half-century partnerships in 31 innings. This year the results have been even worse: during the series against Australia and England the West Indies opening partnerships averaged 14.45.

Gayle has played only one first-class match since his last Test but he showed no signs of rustiness against the red ball, crunching 165 from 155 balls for Jamaica against the Windward Islands in February. He also enjoys playing New Zealand; his Test average of 74.54 against them is his highest average against any country, and despite some low scores against them at the end of the recent ODI series he was comfortably the dominant batsman of the limited-overs portion of the tour.

"It's very exciting. I know he's looking forward to being back in white clothes as well," Sammy told reporters in Antigua ahead of the first Test. "Not just Chris but the entire team is looking forward to the Test series and hopefully we can continue the form we showed in the T20 and one-day series.

"Our opening position has been a spot of bother for us, but with the experience [of Gayle] back there hopefully we can see off the new ball and put a good total on the board. The new ball we have struggled for the last year or so. His experience, he can pass it on to the younger players. But at the end of the day you've still got to go out there and put the performance out there in the middle, because we've got a good side on paper but you still have to go out there and do the business."

The two-match series provides West Indies with an excellent chance to improve their recent Test record; the only one of their past 10 Test series they have won was against Bangladesh. They can also take confidence from the tour match over the past few days, when the New Zealanders narrowly avoided defeat against the WICB President's XI in a match in which several Test squad members performed strongly.

"We had five or six of our guys playing against New Zealand in the practice game. I think they did it well," Sammy said. "Kemar [Roach] came back from injury and he had a good bowl. [Shivnarine] Chanderpaul [made 51], [Narsingh] Deonarine scored a hundred, [Assad] Fudadin looked good. The guys who played during the one-day series have had a chance to go home and rest up and come back fresh."

One of those men who has taken some time off was the offspinner Sunil Narine, who was the Player of the Series in the ODIs against New Zealand and is the only specialist slow bowler in the West Indies Test squad. The visitors struggled against Narine's variations during the limited-overs games and Sammy said that while the challenge in Test cricket was different, Narine would again be a handful.

"[On] the type of wickets we play on in the Caribbean, spin plays an important role," Sammy said. "We have a world-class spinner in Narine, who proved that throughout the one-day and T20 competition that he's a handful here in the Caribbean. It's a different ball and batsmen don't have to attack him, but I back him to go out there and do well for us."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • mrhamilton on July 25, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    When the windies finally have gayle back in at the top, if they can get bravo jnr back from injury and have samuels accept some responsibility and move up the order things will start to look as they should. The final and crucial ingrediant is SAMMY must must move up to 6!!! The other players like deonarine have failed in this position.....its pathetic the way chanderpaul and samuels have let 4 youngsters go in at 1-4 to see off the new ball for them , which they failed to do most the time, and than they ended up going in anyway. my windies team ideally, Gayle, Powell, Bravo jnr, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Sammy, Ramdin, Best,Roach,Edwards or Rampaul, Narine or bishoo.

  • anver777 on July 25, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Love to see Gayle is back in white kit..... a solid foundation is what require for big totals in tests & hope Gayle will provide that WI !!!!!

  • cracker2012 on July 25, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Top order might still need work. Hopefully the top 3 men take confidence in the presence of Gayle. However, anytime one falls I believe the top 3 will tumble.

  • braindead_rocker on July 24, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Maybe in the long run Sammy might not be the best test captain but who can forget his gritty 100 against England when top batsmen failed. He is slowly raising in stature as everybody continue to degrade him. He is the stability that Windies need at this time. He will only improve as a player and he is a great contributor to the team.

  • on July 24, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    The WI poorly manage talent, Shillingford has just broken a record that stood for 40 years (10 wks by a WI spinner in a test match) against a top 3 side Australia, and now he can't make the squad against NZ. Permaul bowled Deonarine & Fudadin for 12 overs each in the first but not Shane. Shillingford and Narine would seriously threaten NZ, both should play. I am also watching to see the top 3, my choice would be 1 Gayle 2 Powell(recent form v India A) and Barath at 3, Samuels 4, Chanderpaul 5 Sammy 6, Ramdin 7 Rampaul 8,Roach 9 Narine 10 & Best 11 - but expect Deonarine to play and either Barath/Powell to sit with Fudadin.

  • Metman on July 24, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    @ Annan Boodram ! So what do you expect Sammy to say about Gayles' return ? Do you want him to say that he doesn't want Gayle back in the team....the same way,when the same Gayle said that Sammy does not deserve a place on the team ? At least he is being a little bit more diplomatic !There is a time and place for everything...one should always know when to open ones' mouth and when to keep it shut...now Gayle in playing under the same men he once critisized ! and another blogger has the gall to talk about Sarwan and patriotism in the same breath !

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    The mere fact that CG will be included in the test side does not translate to test victories. The opening position will be stronger but cricket is a team game. I remember the last NZ tour CG scored a lot of runs but the WI won little(check archives). Even in the recent SA/Eng test, Eng. lost after scoring 385 in the first innings. NZ and WI are similarly ranked so it should be a good series and NZ have DV and CM who can cause problems. WI should put up a good show and possibly win, improving on their recent reasonable showings against Aus and Eng.

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    If you compare Sammy's captaincy to any other test side, he will not make it on performance. There is some reason the folks who run WIBC has him there. As far no one else wanting the captaincy, I would not either if the support, was not coming from the powers that be...I am not convinced this is the best team selected to be on the field..but will support them until it gets better or the 'selectors' start to evaluate talent and performance versus other factors. Test games requires resilience, patience and a willingness to defer aggression at the crease...I might suggest the WI team look at SA batting against England this week and emulate that as much as they can...good luck to WI team in the series, hoping for some positive outcome...

  • Chanderpaul136 on July 24, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    Chanderpaul and Gayle is the most successful modern opening pair.

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    I've always liked Nash's attitude/aptitude for the game. But let's face facts/reality: he's 34 and probably passed his best at Test level. If the selectors bring him back, whose place would he take? Samuels? Deonarine, young Bravo? Can't see it. By the way, why is Bravo's groin strain taking 3 months to heal? Perhaps it's a tear and not a strain. I expect Fudadin & Rampaul to do drinks duties tomorrow. The team then would be (in batting order): Gayle, Barath, Powell, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Deonarine, Ramdin, Sammy, Roach, Best & Narine. Competition for the spinner's spot is good for the team. Whomever is chosen knows that he's # 1 in the selectors' eyes and must do well to maintain his place as others are breathing down his neck. Hope Gayle puts down his head and BUILDS an inning rather than play one in his usual swashbuckling style. In the past, he'd usually make a rapidfire 40 or so, then gift his wicket. I'm expecting a new sense of maturity/discipline in his batting. WI all the way

  • mrhamilton on July 25, 2012, 11:38 GMT

    When the windies finally have gayle back in at the top, if they can get bravo jnr back from injury and have samuels accept some responsibility and move up the order things will start to look as they should. The final and crucial ingrediant is SAMMY must must move up to 6!!! The other players like deonarine have failed in this position.....its pathetic the way chanderpaul and samuels have let 4 youngsters go in at 1-4 to see off the new ball for them , which they failed to do most the time, and than they ended up going in anyway. my windies team ideally, Gayle, Powell, Bravo jnr, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Sammy, Ramdin, Best,Roach,Edwards or Rampaul, Narine or bishoo.

  • anver777 on July 25, 2012, 5:04 GMT

    Love to see Gayle is back in white kit..... a solid foundation is what require for big totals in tests & hope Gayle will provide that WI !!!!!

  • cracker2012 on July 25, 2012, 5:03 GMT

    Top order might still need work. Hopefully the top 3 men take confidence in the presence of Gayle. However, anytime one falls I believe the top 3 will tumble.

  • braindead_rocker on July 24, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Maybe in the long run Sammy might not be the best test captain but who can forget his gritty 100 against England when top batsmen failed. He is slowly raising in stature as everybody continue to degrade him. He is the stability that Windies need at this time. He will only improve as a player and he is a great contributor to the team.

  • on July 24, 2012, 18:22 GMT

    The WI poorly manage talent, Shillingford has just broken a record that stood for 40 years (10 wks by a WI spinner in a test match) against a top 3 side Australia, and now he can't make the squad against NZ. Permaul bowled Deonarine & Fudadin for 12 overs each in the first but not Shane. Shillingford and Narine would seriously threaten NZ, both should play. I am also watching to see the top 3, my choice would be 1 Gayle 2 Powell(recent form v India A) and Barath at 3, Samuels 4, Chanderpaul 5 Sammy 6, Ramdin 7 Rampaul 8,Roach 9 Narine 10 & Best 11 - but expect Deonarine to play and either Barath/Powell to sit with Fudadin.

  • Metman on July 24, 2012, 17:03 GMT

    @ Annan Boodram ! So what do you expect Sammy to say about Gayles' return ? Do you want him to say that he doesn't want Gayle back in the team....the same way,when the same Gayle said that Sammy does not deserve a place on the team ? At least he is being a little bit more diplomatic !There is a time and place for everything...one should always know when to open ones' mouth and when to keep it shut...now Gayle in playing under the same men he once critisized ! and another blogger has the gall to talk about Sarwan and patriotism in the same breath !

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:45 GMT

    The mere fact that CG will be included in the test side does not translate to test victories. The opening position will be stronger but cricket is a team game. I remember the last NZ tour CG scored a lot of runs but the WI won little(check archives). Even in the recent SA/Eng test, Eng. lost after scoring 385 in the first innings. NZ and WI are similarly ranked so it should be a good series and NZ have DV and CM who can cause problems. WI should put up a good show and possibly win, improving on their recent reasonable showings against Aus and Eng.

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    If you compare Sammy's captaincy to any other test side, he will not make it on performance. There is some reason the folks who run WIBC has him there. As far no one else wanting the captaincy, I would not either if the support, was not coming from the powers that be...I am not convinced this is the best team selected to be on the field..but will support them until it gets better or the 'selectors' start to evaluate talent and performance versus other factors. Test games requires resilience, patience and a willingness to defer aggression at the crease...I might suggest the WI team look at SA batting against England this week and emulate that as much as they can...good luck to WI team in the series, hoping for some positive outcome...

  • Chanderpaul136 on July 24, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    Chanderpaul and Gayle is the most successful modern opening pair.

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    I've always liked Nash's attitude/aptitude for the game. But let's face facts/reality: he's 34 and probably passed his best at Test level. If the selectors bring him back, whose place would he take? Samuels? Deonarine, young Bravo? Can't see it. By the way, why is Bravo's groin strain taking 3 months to heal? Perhaps it's a tear and not a strain. I expect Fudadin & Rampaul to do drinks duties tomorrow. The team then would be (in batting order): Gayle, Barath, Powell, Samuels, Chanderpaul, Deonarine, Ramdin, Sammy, Roach, Best & Narine. Competition for the spinner's spot is good for the team. Whomever is chosen knows that he's # 1 in the selectors' eyes and must do well to maintain his place as others are breathing down his neck. Hope Gayle puts down his head and BUILDS an inning rather than play one in his usual swashbuckling style. In the past, he'd usually make a rapidfire 40 or so, then gift his wicket. I'm expecting a new sense of maturity/discipline in his batting. WI all the way

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    GOOD LUCK GUYS. YOU ALL WILL DO GREAT.

  • on July 24, 2012, 16:15 GMT

    Barath lik e. Mc mo rris he failed to often h e don't have test qualities

  • Al11 on July 24, 2012, 15:34 GMT

    @ Ricardo Mitchell...don't get me wrong I like Sammy he bring a winning spirit to the team....but u need to be open minded....Sammy is not PATRIOTIC nor committed to WI than anyone else...what else does he have to commit to Windward Island cricket...surely nothing like the IPL...no he is not good or talented enough....if he was so committed why did he make himself available for the Bangladesh Premier League...only withdrawn after he was sold for a mediocre $ amount...again not good or talented enough for big $....wanna see commitment look at Australia captain Michael Clark...The IPL offer him tons of money but he turn them down ...did not even make him self avaliable for the auction ...only when when nation duties were concluded...that is patriotic and commitment...no other international teams currently have questions about their captain's selection

  • on July 24, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Bring back Brendan Nash! Gayle's return is well enjoyed, but with Nash, we can get some stability in the middle order

  • on July 24, 2012, 13:31 GMT

    FOR LOVE OR MONEY, SAMMY WOULD HAVE TO BE IN MY SIDE IN AL FORMAT OF THE GAME. Sammy stood by our side during the time when no one want to, he directed us when other were following elsewhere. Sammy is a symbol of what it mean to be PATRIACHIC. wE NEED Sarwan back. He use to bat at number three so he shoud open with Gayle......My side is : Gayle, Sarwan, Samuel, Chanderpaul, Deonrine, Sammy, Thomas, Narine/ Shillingford, Rampaul, Roach +the next best.

  • mrhamilton on July 24, 2012, 13:01 GMT

    Gayle should have played against England now he is going to come back against NZ...but the fact remains he will be a terrific asset to this windian team who have instilled fight and spirit in the last year or so. People can blame barath, edwards and powell as being poor in gayles absence but the fact remains all 3 are rookies who have been sent out to bat at the top without an experienced man like gayle to nurture and guide them. Edwards until this debacle against England had an average of 50 in his 7 tests. Bravo jnr who failed is an exceptional talent and powell also. Lets not forget as a rookie azar ali too failed in england and now look at what he has gone on to in the last 2 years. Right now lets have Gayle at the top and edwards,barath and powell to fight it out for the 2 other spots.

  • sugars on July 24, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    it would appear that bloggers on here are either blind to the facts or must really have something personal about having players from the smaller islands on this west indies team..shillingford continues to do the talking by taking wickets yet ppl calling for bishoo to be in team..they conspired to keep shillingford out by not bowling him in the first ennings of the president xi against nz hes response in the second innings he took 5 wickets and still was not named in the first test..eveyone seems quiet about that yet they want to get sammy out or bishoo or permaul..how much transparent can you guys be? why not just come out and say only pick players from the so called bigger islands?

  • on July 24, 2012, 12:05 GMT

    Windies should have persisted with Devon Smith as an opener. He didn't look bad. He just always got out at wrong times. I am not convinced about Kraigg Brathwaite. He seems to confuse himself at times when coming to either defending or attacking. In that boat (confusing himself) he is with Angelo Mathews. But, he is still young enough to learn. Since Greenidge and Haynes Windies has never settled had a settled opening pair.

  • on July 24, 2012, 11:41 GMT

    West Indies team lacks balance. The all rounder position is a gift to a captain. Shillingford deserves a place.

  • on July 24, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    Well Sammy must ensure that he keeps is captaincy at any cost, becoz thats the only reason he is in the team. Everybody knows that if he has to play as an ordinary member then he cant be an automatic choice, specially in the test side. Cant forget his comment after toss in a match, when asked about the reason for the team changes he told "the selectors know the reason".

  • plow on July 24, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    Just like the much hyped up Lara against New Zealand, Gayle will fail. Kane Williamson to show the way.

  • on July 24, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Yeah but Sammy only realized the need for Gayle after Gayle returned. He was conspicuously silent about calls for Gayle's return while Gayle was on the outside. As he has been conspicuous by his silence with respect to Sarwan's return, even now after Sarwan has been cleared of all WICB charges. The only captain who does not have the guts to call for the players who are needed. Or is it that he's ensuring that he keeps the captaincy at all costs?

  • WindiesWillow on July 24, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    WI still need to find another opener, Gayle cannot do it alone at the top order. WI do well when we get a good opening partnership, otherwise we usually play the catch up game. Hope we have a good opening batsman lurking somewhere in the Caribbean.

  • gothetaniwha on July 24, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Good luck Chris is back for NZ ,when he was last in the team and captain they were a joke only ahead of the club team BD , at least with Sammy they are playing like a team .Our (NZ) problem is the batting top order ,Guptill is over rated , Flynn should bat 5 , Watling should open , .

  • RahulPatil89 on July 24, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Chris is in awesome form now a days.WI needs kind pf player which gives them best opening with runs on scoreboard.

  • SamRoy on July 24, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Roach and Rampaul and Narine. It would have been so much better if WI could have played one more spinner in place of Sammy. Could have tried Permaul or Bishoo.

  • ninn on July 24, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    its just not fair! he misses how many series against top flight opposition but comes back against us. Some of us were even dreaming we had an outside chance, but that looks far less likely now. Gale loves playing NZ, last test series he beat us almost single handed. I welcome him back to real international cricket wholeheartedly, the game is much better with him in it ...but why did you have to pick us for the comeback!!

  • Flighted_kiwi on July 24, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    I guess the main question for NZ is - will it be Wagner or Martin who gets Gayle cheaply? And will their batters support them?

  • Ajronald on July 24, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    Bad luck for Newzealand .... Chris is back!!!

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  • Ajronald on July 24, 2012, 2:59 GMT

    Bad luck for Newzealand .... Chris is back!!!

  • Flighted_kiwi on July 24, 2012, 3:35 GMT

    I guess the main question for NZ is - will it be Wagner or Martin who gets Gayle cheaply? And will their batters support them?

  • ninn on July 24, 2012, 4:03 GMT

    its just not fair! he misses how many series against top flight opposition but comes back against us. Some of us were even dreaming we had an outside chance, but that looks far less likely now. Gale loves playing NZ, last test series he beat us almost single handed. I welcome him back to real international cricket wholeheartedly, the game is much better with him in it ...but why did you have to pick us for the comeback!!

  • SamRoy on July 24, 2012, 5:52 GMT

    Roach and Rampaul and Narine. It would have been so much better if WI could have played one more spinner in place of Sammy. Could have tried Permaul or Bishoo.

  • RahulPatil89 on July 24, 2012, 6:04 GMT

    Chris is in awesome form now a days.WI needs kind pf player which gives them best opening with runs on scoreboard.

  • gothetaniwha on July 24, 2012, 7:14 GMT

    Good luck Chris is back for NZ ,when he was last in the team and captain they were a joke only ahead of the club team BD , at least with Sammy they are playing like a team .Our (NZ) problem is the batting top order ,Guptill is over rated , Flynn should bat 5 , Watling should open , .

  • WindiesWillow on July 24, 2012, 9:48 GMT

    WI still need to find another opener, Gayle cannot do it alone at the top order. WI do well when we get a good opening partnership, otherwise we usually play the catch up game. Hope we have a good opening batsman lurking somewhere in the Caribbean.

  • on July 24, 2012, 10:40 GMT

    Yeah but Sammy only realized the need for Gayle after Gayle returned. He was conspicuously silent about calls for Gayle's return while Gayle was on the outside. As he has been conspicuous by his silence with respect to Sarwan's return, even now after Sarwan has been cleared of all WICB charges. The only captain who does not have the guts to call for the players who are needed. Or is it that he's ensuring that he keeps the captaincy at all costs?

  • plow on July 24, 2012, 11:01 GMT

    Just like the much hyped up Lara against New Zealand, Gayle will fail. Kane Williamson to show the way.

  • on July 24, 2012, 11:15 GMT

    Well Sammy must ensure that he keeps is captaincy at any cost, becoz thats the only reason he is in the team. Everybody knows that if he has to play as an ordinary member then he cant be an automatic choice, specially in the test side. Cant forget his comment after toss in a match, when asked about the reason for the team changes he told "the selectors know the reason".