West Indies v England, 3rd Test, Antigua, 4th day February 18, 2009

Drained Gayle keeps the faith

Chris Gayle falls leg-before © PA Photos
Chris Gayle hasn't given up hope of his side salvaging a draw at the ARG, despite a game in which he admitted the team had been flat. Set a massive 503 for victory, West Indies lost three wickets before the close to leave themselves a tough task on the final day. As is so often the case, hope rests on the shoulders of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan.

"We know it is in England's favour at this point in time but having said that, there are two experienced batsmen at the crease," Gayle said. "The first session is very important and hopefully by the end of it those guys will still be at the crease.

"I think the wicket is pretty good still. There is some uneven bounce and [Graeme] Swann has some rough to accompany him. [But I'm] confident the guys can do it, it is going to be difficult, no-one can say it will be easy but we have to have the self-belief that the guys can get the job done."

There has been a general lethargy around West Indies' performance in this game, a hang-over from the rapid switch of venues which sapped their momentum following the innings victory at Sabina Park.

"It's not just me, everyone is a bit flat," Gayle said. "I was a bit drained, a bit tired, but I keep talking to myself. I know this is Test cricket, it is what it is all about. We still have to go out and get job done. I tried to motivate myself, but I won't lie, I was a bit drained.

"You have to take the conditions into consideration, it was really hot and the England guys also toiled in the sun and suffered for it as well, it is tough to motivate ourselves and enjoy it at that same time. It's an important day for us tomorrow."

However, Gayle was adamant that he was happy with the decision to play the match at the ARG. "It's not about rescheduling the game, but it did disrupt the preparation. We had to put things in place as quickly as possible. It was a bit difficult to us," he said.

Another factor that will have come to the West Indies players' attention in the last 24 hours is Allen Stanford's fraud charges. Less than four months ago Gayle was holding the Stanford 20/20 for 20 trophy aloft and with it a cheque for US$20million which has changed the players' lives for ever.

"I don't want to touch on that case now, a lot is happening" Gayle said. "We just want to focus on the cricket. What happened out there is not our concern right now. We just have to deal with what we can handle." That starts with saving this Test and maintaining the 1-0 lead that provided such hope and expectation. This island could do with something to smile about at the moment.

Andrew McGlashan is a staff writer at Cricinfo