WELLINGTON: There was no Chris Gayle at practice yesterday, but the good news is that the scan completed on his back has not shown any serious sign of injury and he should be ready for the quarterfinal against New Zealand in the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Gayle has been treating his back pains seriously, as he should, and the management team decided to send the champion left-handed batsman for a more intricate look at his chronic problem instead of training in the very windy weather at the Basin Reserve.
Fans gathered at the Reserve to watch the teams practice almost like they were coming to watch a match, but such has been the interest here in Wellington with the Kiwis obviously having full support.
After practice Gayle was spotted at the team hotel and when asked about how the scans went he replied: “Good man!” His colleague and the unofficial team mentor, Darren Sammy was also very upbeat and provided a newsy diagnosis saying his teammate had an injection.
“Chris is not missing this quarter-final for anybody,” he said. “He is more pumped up than we are. He’s been writing down the path for us and the different scenarios. We’ve had teams who had the better of us and he’s said we’ve got a chance of meeting them in the semis when it matters, when it hurts the most,” said Sammy.
Even though he has been inconsistent, Gayle is West Indies’ leading run-scorer in the tournament with 279 runs at 55.80, with 215 of those coming in one innings against Zimbabwe. The only thing at this stage that appears unsettled in the team composition for the match at the Westpac Stadium, which promises to be a very balanced track.
It is understood that once Gayle does play, Dwayne Smith will be benched, after scoring 93 runs in six matches for an average of 15.5 per innings. Overall in his career he still averages 18.8 with only one half century in his last 12 innings.
The replacement for Darren Bravo has been Johnson Charles who got off and running with a half century and will maintain his place to partner Gayle. The other conundrum is whether to include left arm spinner Suliemann Benn at the expense of pacer Kemar Roach who has only picked up one wicket.
Like Gayle, Benn has also had some back issues and has not been much better than Roach with two wickets in three matches as well. Whatever the decision, the West Indies can no longer depend on another team to advance; a victory is their only hope of a semi-final place against the unbeaten Kiwis.