West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has said that he was not fit enough to play the ongoing Test series against Australia, but hopes to make a return to Test cricket next year. He also urged fans to give more time to the struggling West Indies Test team and allow youngsters to develop their game.
Gayle, who played the last of his 103 Tests in July 2014, said he was trying to get back into the groove after undergoing surgery on his back in July. He recently made a return to competitive cricket in the Bangladesh Premier League and will now play for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.
"If I wasn't (recovering from a back injury) I would definitely. I haven't retired from the game," Gayle told reporters in Melbourne on Tuesday. "I'm just trying to get back into the groove. Next year, hopefully Test cricket is on the agenda. I haven't batted for such a long time. I scored 92 in a game and the next day felt like I'd been hit by a bus. The body will actually take time to build up gradually."
Gayle has scored 7214 Test runs at an average of 42.18, but has played only four of West Indies' 16 Tests since January 1, 2014. His last Test appearance was in the first match of the home series against Bangladesh in July. He subsequently missed Test series in South Africa and Sri Lanka, and home series against England and Australia due to fitness issues.
Gayle also stressed that a young West Indies team needed time to develop in the longer format. West Indies have lost seven of their last ten Tests. On the current tour of Australia, they suffered a ten-wicket loss in a tour game against a Cricket Australia XI side that featured six players making their first-class debuts. This was followed by a listless performance in the Hobart Test, which they lost to Australia by an innings and 212 runs inside three days.
"If you want to bash the cricket, you bash me basically," he said. "We are loved around the world. We might not be playing good cricket but … it's a young team so we have to definitely give it time rather than being so harsh on West Indies' cricket all the time. Some young players are coming through the ranks. We have to give them time."