Chris Gayle, the West Indies captain, has flown home to Jamaica to be with his seriously ill mother, leaving him in doubt for next week's first Test. Gayle departed Allan Border Field before the start of the tour game against Queensland to begin the journey back to visit her in hospital in Kingston.
Team-mate Ramnaresh Sarwan said it was disappointing to lose Gayle and the squad would have to wait to learn whether he will be able to turn out at the Gabba. "He's got something very important to go back to, his mum is not well," Sarwan said. "We're hoping for him to come back for the first Test, if not the second. We'll have to wait and see what happens."
Gayle's absence means Denesh Ramdin, the wicketkeeper, is leading the side in the four-day tour match in Brisbane. The 15-man squad is already short of experience and will rely on Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Sarwan to lift it in the lead-up to the Test on November 26.
"The thoughts of the management and players in the team as well as the WICB are with Chris and his family at this time," Joel Garner, the team manager, said. "We also want to wish his mother a speedy recovery."
While the squad hopes Gayle will return quickly, the move is a further blow to the tourists, who have come together following a strike between the players and the West Indies Cricket Board. Gayle, who has played 82 Tests, has also been criticised for his attitude since being re-appointed captain following the player strike. When the team arrived last week he spoke of unifying the side and challenging Australia in the three-game series.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo