By Gregory Bryce
I will admit that I am not the world’s biggest fan of cricket and the West Indies, at least, not for the few recent years. I can recall earlier in my childhood, my mother and I would wake up early in the morning to catch snippets of the West Indies matches, but that enthusiasm for the Windies has since faded.
However, they have caught my attention recently with their T20I series against Sri Lanka. The team, which will be looking to defend their World Cup T20I title later this year, has seen the return of the heavy-hitting batsman Chris Gayle.
Gayle returns to the team for the first since 2019, and seems to have brought a new and revived energy around the team, at least in my opinion.
Gayle, who was the first batsman ever to hit a century in each of international cricket’s three formats, has said that he will make every effort to help the West Indies team succeed in any capacity asked of him by his teammates and coaches.
“I am never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket at this particular time. So that’s when I got the call and then I decided I am full on.” Gayle said in an interview over Zoom.
Gayle has admitted that he had thought about retiring from the sport, but had decided to continue playing franchise cricket.
Now, back in maroon, Gayle’s short term ambition is to win the Sri Lanka series, but he has his eyes on the bigger picture – the T20I World Cup.
“We want to win the series. I know being back it might be a little bit of attention, but I don’t want (it) to go in that regards. We looking at things as a team point of view. We have a strong captain, Pollard is a very strong captain. We have a lot of quality players within the team,” Gayle said. “I want to start off on a winning note by winning this series, but the bigger picture is to get three T20 titles under my belt.”
The West Indies is the only team to have won the T20I World title on more than one occasion (winning in 2012 and 2016) and will enter this year’s competition as the reigning champions.
The team, currently ranked 10th in the ICC’s T20I World rankings, will not have it easy.
But while they will have a boost with the return of Gayle, there are other seasoned professionals on the team such as Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards, Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard, the captain.
Already the team has shown that this will not be a one man show, after Chris Gayle had been bowled out for duck in the first match of the series against Sri Lanka.
Despite the loss of such a huge wicket for the West Indies, they had managed to win the match in comfortable fashion, largely in thanks to the captain Pollard, who hit six 6s in a single over to inject life into a West Indies team that was caught 52-3 after a hattrick from Sri Lankan bowler Akila Dananjaya, who claimed the wickets of Evin Lewis, Chris Gayle and Nicolas Pooran in the fourth over.
Pollard says that the win was a reflection of the right mix of youth and experience within the West Indies team.
“We’re excited to have certain individuals back. We excited as well to have the younger players trying to get an opportunity as well. I think the way to go forward is having that sort of mix,” Pollard said. “In the team, we have youth and experience. The youthful guys can learn from the experienced guys. These are some of the things that have been missing throughout. From 2016 till now, can we say we have put out our best T20 team to go to any series or anything like that? There was always different things happening in the midst of it.”
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