Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo
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West Indies' interim coach, David Williams, is "almost sure" Chris Gayle will be available to play the first Test against Australia at the Gabba from Thursday, but will leave the final decision to his jet-lagged captain. Gayle has spent almost 100 hours commuting between the Caribbean and Australia over the past fortnight, and is due to arrive in Brisbane barely 24 hours before the toss.
Gayle is no stranger to eleventh hour arrivals ahead of Test series. He landed in England the day before this year's first Test, having been granted special permission by his board to extend his stint in the IPL. He also cut fine his arrival for the 2008 home Test series against Australia, also due to IPL commitments, prompting Williams to quip: "He's getting used to it."
Gayle kept fans abreast of his recent movements via his Twitter page, including updates on his mother's improving health. That development greatly lifted Gayle's spirits, raising hope among the West Indian team that their captain will be available for the first Test.
"He should be alright," Williams said. "Chris has done this before and he knows what is before him. It's just a matter of getting acclimatised as quickly as possible and then the ball is in his court whether he wants to play or not. We've just got to wait and see and be hopeful that he's going to be ready for that Test match. It's going to be very important for us to have him.
"Once he comes back here we're almost sure that he's going to play. Probably he won't come to the nets. He'll just take his time and rest. But it's up to him. It's how he feels when he gets up on the morning of the game. We're just hopeful that he's going to be ready in time."
Williams dismissed suggestions his team could opt to field first on Thursday to allow Gayle additional time to recuperate from his latest long-haul flight. "We're not going to make a decision based on one guy," he said. "If we get to the Gabba and we have a look in the morning and we feel it's feasible for us to be bat then so be it."
Gayle's mercy dash is the latest setback to hit the West Indian squad. A damaging industrial relations dispute and an injury to key fast bowler Fidel Edwards conspired to relegate West Indies to 12-1 outsiders with bookmakers for the Gabba Test, and Gayle's absence would presumably see those odds inflate further.
Despite the various crises confronting his team, Williams adopted a bullish stance ahead of Thursday's series opener. "We have had a good look at the Australian bowling attack (and) we felt it's not as experienced as previous attacks," he said. ""Maybe we can put them under some pressure."