Chris Gayle has had an injection in his back to try and aid his long-standing complaint ahead of West Indies’ World Cup quarter-final against New Zealand in Wellington, but Darren Sammy said Gayle “is not missing this quarter-final for anybody.”
Gayle did not play against UAE in Napier as West Indies secured the win that enabled them to progress to the knockouts at the expense of Ireland, who had beaten them early in the tournament.
He underwent a scan in Wellington and did not attend training on Wednesday. It is understood the West Indies management are taking a day-by-day approach to assessing Gayle, but Sammy provided an upbeat assessment of his prognosis.
“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.
“Chris is pumped up just like everyone in the dressing room. It’s unfortunate that this chronic back injury keeps hindering his progress. He won’t miss that quarter-final.”
Gayle is West Indies’ leading run-scorer in the tournament with 279 runs at 55.80, though 215 of those came in one innings against Zimbabwe. In his absence against UAE, Johnson Charles made 55 off 40 balls, and if Gayle is able to return it will be his opening partner Dwayne Smith under most pressure for his place after making 93 runs in six innings.
Sammy said due respect would be given to New Zealand’s attack and some early caution would be advisable, but that Gayle would trust his instincts. “Chris is an experienced player but once he’s at the crease anything is possible. That doesn’t mean if they bowl half volleys then we won’t hit them into the stands. We just have to be more selective and execute properly.
“You’ve got to give credit, they have been the best new-ball pair in the World Cup and they’ve done it consistently. If you don’t allow them to take wickets then a different game plan has to come to the party so you get the Andersons and the other guys and let them come back into their third spells and then you cash in. The guys who don’t lose wickets in the first 10 overs, when the ball is new, tend to go on and score 300-plus.”