John Dyson, the West Indies coach, is optimistic of Chris Gayle's chances of playing the third and final Test against Australia at Kensington Oval starting on Thursday. Gayle, the team's captain, has been out of action since the third one-dayer against Sri Lanka in April, missing the Indian Premier League and the first two Tests against Australia with a groin injury.
Dyson said he was happy with Gayle's rehabilitation in the nets and didn't rule out the possibility of risking him even if not fully fit. "He's been in the nets," Dyson told AFP. "Even during the rehabilitation phase of the injury, he's been in the nets and has been hitting the ball very well in the nets. It's not ideal, but that's the way it is, and we'll make sure he gets some extra good practice next week.
"He might have to put up with a little bit of discomfort, and we'll get the opinion from the medical team. If they say 'look, we don't think it will be damaged and he is able to play', it's worth the risk then."
Dyson is hoping for a sporting pitch in Barbados, unlike the surface prepared for the second Test in Antigua. There were 1341 runs scored for the loss of 28 wickets at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium, where the match ended in a draw despite Australia declaring twice.
Resistance from Ramnaresh Sarwan and Shivnarine Chanderpaul helped West Indies bat out the final day and end on 266 for 5, chasing a challenging 372 to square the series after losing the first Test. Barbados will be hosting its first Test since 2005 and Dyson hoped the pitch would give the fast bowlers some assistance.
"I hope for a good cricket wicket," Dyson said. "My definition of a good cricket wicket is that for a Test match on the first day, if you are a genuinely quick bowler and you're prepared to try hard, you'll get some assistance. That will flatten out for days two and three and be a good batting wicket. On day four, it might start to spin and on day five, who knows, it might spin a lot. It might help the medium-pacers if it cracks a bit."
Reflecting on the drawn Test, the first between the two sides since 1995, Dyson said it was always going to be difficult to produce a result compared to the surface used in Jamaica, where Australia won by 95 runs. "I thought the Jamaica wicket was actually pretty good, it was a little slower than I thought it might be," he said. "The one in Antigua, there was just nothing in it for the pace bowlers. I was surprised by that."
Dyson drew positives from the second Test and backed the efforts of his side in the field in the second innings, especially after some dropped catches and misfields in the first. "I was happy with the result of the second Test," he said. "I thought we played some good cricket.
"I think players like Shiv [Shivnarine Chanderpaul] and Sars [Ramnaresh Sarwan] and [Dwayne] Bravo batted well, and Xavier Marshall as well.They all put in good performances with the bat. The bowlers worked hard on an unresponsive wicket and we lifted our fielding in the second innings so they were some good things happening in the Tests."