WHILE?OUTSPOKEN former West Indies captain Chris Gayle will be welcomed back in the regional cricket team by captain Darren Sammy and coach Ottis Gibson, English side Somerset, which he has turned down, may take legal action.
Somerset chief executive Guy Lavender indicated yesterday the county side may litigate against Gayle.
“A contract is a contract,” Lavender said, “and we are exploring our options and will decide what is best for Somerset in due course.”
But Sammy, even though warning that Gayle would have to fall in line with the Windies’ new attitude, joined Gibson in expressing delight that the talismanic opener was available for the limited overs leg of the England tour and all future engagements.
Gibson said he hoped the Clyde Butts-chaired selection panel would pick the flamboyant left-hander, who has not played for the Caribbean side in over a year because of a spat with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB).
Butts could not be reached yesterday by WEEKEND SPORT to find out whether Gayle would be selected.
The way has been cleared for Gayle to don the West Indies’ maroon again in next month’s three One-Day Internationals and a T20 against England after he opted out of a contract with Somerset, which he had signed since January, to make himself available for selection.
“It’s great to hear that Chris is available again,” Gibson said, a day after the West Indians arrived in England for the three-Test tour.
“I’m sure the selectors will pick him, because he’s world-class. If he’s made himself available for the One-Day series, I can’t see him not being selected,” Gibson added.
In a statement issued through the West Indies Players Association late Wednesday, Gayle said he had written to the English county to indicate his unavailability and was free to represent the Windies “in all forms of cricket”.
And Sammy, who took over from Gayle as captain two years ago, said he expected Gayle to make a seamless re-entry into the team once he was selected.
“It will be very easy. He’s the best One-Day batsman in the world. So I don’t think it will be a problem at all. He plays very well, going into many different dressing rooms all around the world and making runs. I don’t think coming into ours will be any different.”
But Sammy warned that Gayle, who has not represented the West Indies since last year’s World Cup in the sub-continent, would be expected to share in the new team attitude and give his all to help his side succeed.
“The Chris Gayle issue has been going on for a while. But we as a team have moved on. In the last series we played (Australia), we came out with a new attitude where we are not going to let anybody keep us down. We are going to strive to move forward,” Sammy said.
“When Chris joins the set-up, he will be coming into a very hard-working environment which he has to fit into. As a captain, whoever comes into the dressing room, I know the coach and I would welcome them.
“Obviously we would urge them to contribute to the team’s success. If he is in, it is all good for us. We all know what he is capable of doing and we hope he could fit in nicely and do the job
to take West Indies cricket forward,” Sammy said.
Gayle, currently playing in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore where he smashed four half-centuries in his last five innings, held a teleconference with WICB officials and selectors to discuss his future.
“I have now satisfied all of the requests of the WICB and their selection panel, with whom I met via teleconference yesterday, and to whom I reiterated previous assurances given to the board regarding my availability,” Gayle said.
“So that there is no doubt, I confirmed to the selectors that I was available for West Indies duty in all forms of cricket, immediately following the conclusion of my contractual obligations to my IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore.”
The IPL finishes May 28, while the limited overs series in England will be staged between June 16 and 24, clashing with the Friends Life T20 but Gayle said the decision to pull out of the Somerset deal and risk consequences was done in the interest of the regional game.
“I have written to Somerset CC and advised them that I will not be honouring the commitment I made to them when I signed a contract with them for the 2012 Friends Provident Championship,” Gayle said.
“I made it clear to them that my decision was made because of my commitment to West Indies cricket and to West Indies cricket fans, and because . . . I believe that it is time for the WICB to make a decision which will provide a clearer view of my own future.’”
“I understand that by making this decision, it may place me in a position of considerable risk since I am forgoing
a signed contract without any guarantees whatsoever, with only the hope that I will be selected to play for the West Indies again.”
Gayle said he was now looking forward to returning to the West Indies side.
“This has been a difficult time and I wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me, my family and friends, and in particular cricket fans worldwide who have continued to show appreciation for me wherever I have played,” he said.
“I look forward to once again putting on the maroon and resuming my international career and my service to West Indies cricket.”
Following the England tour, West Indies return to the Caribbean to face New Zealand in two Tests and five ODIs from June 30 to August 6. (EZS/CMC)