Gayle cloud hangs over Windies as Proteas clash loomsMonday, October 25, 2021
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (CMC) — Chris Gayle's continued inclusion in the West Indies XI remained a major talking point as the Caribbean side geared up for their critical clash with South Africa in their second outing of the Twenty20 World Cup here Tuesday.
The 42-year-old has endured a protracted run of wretched form this year with an average of 17 but was still selected for the showpiece, subsequently securing a place in the final XI for West Indies opener against England last Saturday in which they suffered a chastening six-wicket defeat, after being bundled out for a paltry 55.
But even with West Indies needing to turn the page on that performance and halt a losing streak which started with defeats in the two official warm-up games against Pakistan and Afghanistan last week, bowling coach Roddy Estwick argued the Jamaican was still key to the team's success on and off the field, while also bringing all-round value.
“Chris has been a wonderful servant of West Indies cricket. We still expect great things from him but he also adds a lot in terms of addressing the room and helping the younger players,” Estwick told a media conference Monday.
“Sometimes we tend to just look at performances and we tend to think that the numbers don't match up. But there's a lot more to a cricketer and there's a lot more to an experienced player in terms of the dressing room, in terms of helping the youngsters in terms of helping them to field as well.”
He continued: “What people tend to forget as well is Chris offers a spin option. If you look at … when we played against Australia, Chris bowled really well. So, there's a lot of roles that Chris has to play within the team.”
“Just don't look at the performance. Look at in the past, he's done very, very well at the World Cup level. And I'm sure before the tournament is finished he will do well again.”
Since the last T20 World Cup in 2016, Gayle has made a single half-century. And he has trundled his off-spin in just six of his 17 games this year, sending down nine overs and taking only two wickets.
With Gayle struggling, Roston Chase's exclusion for the first game has come under scrutiny, especially following his heavy scoring in the Caribbean Premier League last month and his half-century against Afghanistan.
However, Estwick said any changes to the batting line-up would be to ensure the best combination against the Proteas, and not simply for the sake of change.
“You've got to look at your makeup of the side, you don't just pick players because. You've got 15 players so you have to pick and try and get your best combination, and the selectors obviously felt that going into the England game, that was our best combination,” Estwick argued.
“We can't hide behind the fact that we didn't bat well. It doesn't matter who played. As a batting unit, we didn't do well enough. We didn't do ourselves justice.
“And to start with, if you're going to get bowled out in [14.2] overs in a T20 game, it just tells you that we didn't bat well enough.
“But we've got to bounce back. We've got to work hard to get that right. And that's going to be very important for us.
“We've got to make sure that whoever walks on that park is ready, is prepared well enough to go and execute the skills and have enough confidence in their own ability to do what is needed.”
Tuesday's game, which bowls off at 2:00 pm (6:00 am Eastern Caribbean time), which see West Indies renew their rivalry from the home series earlier this year when the Proteas edged them 3-2 in a five-match series.
WEST INDIES – Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran, Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Akeal Hosein, Dwayne Bravo, Roston Chase, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Evin Lewis, Obed McCoy, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr
SOUTH AFRICA – Temba Bavuma (captain), Quinton de Kock, Aiden Markram, David Miller, Keshav Maharaj, Bjorn Fortuin, Reeza Hendricks, Heinrich Klaasen, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Kagiso Rabada, Tabraiz Shamsi, Rassie van der Dussen