Chris Gayle and the WICB have reached an understanding that paves the way for the former West Indies captain to return to the national team as early as the upcoming tour of England, Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) has reported. However, the deal's success will be tested by an ongoing lawsuit - to which Gayle is a party - between the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) and the board. Gayle hasn't played for West Indies since the 2011 World Cup.

The agreement between Gayle and the WICB was brokered by CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) and had the involvement of St Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. According to the report, a meeting will be convened between the two parties to "tidy up residual matters" after both parties expressed regret for their actions. "In the light of all of this, the WICB and Mr Gayle agree that the way is now clear for his active return to West Indies cricket, subject to all necessary fitness considerations," the report quoted from the agreement. "A date is to be set for this meeting, convenient to all parties, including Mr Gayle who is currently in India," Baldwin Spencer, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, and the chairman of the Prime Ministerial sub-committee of cricket was quoted as saying.

Gayle has reportedly said he will be unavailable for West Indies duty for the entire duration of the IPL, which ends on May 27. West Indies are due to tour England for a full series between May 5 and June 24 and Gayle's participation in the IPL means he will miss the Test series. However, he was prepared to forego his contract with Somerset and play for West Indies in the one-day and Twenty20 games on that tour. He also said he was available for the World Twenty20 this year and that he was not seeking to "cherry pick" the series he played.

In a statement dated March 29, the board said it was "disappointed" over Gayle's unavailability during the IPL but in the "spirit of compromise and subject to agreement being reached on all outstanding residual matters" it would convey Gayle's unavailability to the selectors.

The board hoped Gayle would drop the lawsuit concerning No-Objection Certificates filed by the WIPA against it, though Gayle, in a statement last week, said he could not "possibly contemplate withdrawing unilaterally from proceedings", especially when such a move would affect all West Indies players. The board, though, has since written to Prime Minister Gonsalves, arguing that Gayle's participation in the lawsuit was not consistent with the agreement reached with the board.

It also questioned why Gayle could not withdraw from the lawsuit unilaterally. "As the lawsuit was started by WIPA without him, and his claims are set out separately, we do not understand why Mr Gayle says he cannot contemplate withdrawing from the lawsuit without WIPA.

"Our efforts must surely be focussed on bringing about the resolution of all outstanding matters between the Board and Mr Gayle."