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Gayle’s presence is vtial

Andi Thornhill

Gayle’s presence is vtial

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REUNITED and it feels so good.
That vintage soul song by American duo Peaches and Herb seems to capture perfectly the reintegration of Chris Gayle into the West Indies team.
Things have gone so well that it is hard to imagine that a year ago that the charismatic Jamaican was virtually a pariah.
His dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) is well documented but it is good that the proverbial hatchet has been buried between the two because it can benefit WI cricket at the international level.
I am not saying that the West Indies will suddenly become world beaters again with Gayle’s presence, because the team’s form was inconsistent even when he led the team, but he is needed to help mentor the young players especially the openers who are having a hard time cutting teeth at the highest level of the game.
You could say it’s deja vu because when Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes left, the youngsters had to fend for themselves and since then we have struggled to find a productive opening partnership. Things may have been very different if the young openers of the day had either of the two legends around long enough to guide them through the embryonic stage of their careers.
It is maybe a reflection of the standard of regional cricket that when some of our players dominate domestically they find it’s an extremely difficult gap to bridge when selected to face the top international teams.
The struggle of most of the batsmen in the recent series against England is a good example. The presence of a Gayle, or his like, at the other end may have made a difference.
Surely, nobody has to tell him that in his second coming he has to be a mentor and assist the rebuilding process, set out by coach Ottis Gibson and captain Darren Sammy, with all of his experience, expertise, heart and soul.
So far in the series against New Zealand, Gayle has played his role well and his own success with the bat has served to inspire the troops.
Gayle’s recall makes it even more pertinent to find a way to get Ramnaresh Sarwan back in the ranks as well. Their influence along with that of Shivnarine Chanderpaul is needed at this time to help embellish the incremental steps of improvement we have seen in the past two years.
It took a lobby from among the CARICOM grouping to get Gayle back in the team. I believe a similar approach can be used with Sarwan, whose batting can bolster the middle order.
This seems to be a season of healing between the WICB and those who were ignored for some time, considering that Sulieman Benn was also called up for the “A” team recently against Sri Lanka. So, for the sake of West Indies cricket, let it continue, by all means.
Not only that, when the team is winning, there seems to be less stress among the average people. There are more smiling faces and possibly greater productivity all around.
Therefore, the team has a duty to keep winning against New Zealand with all hands on deck.
• Andi Thornhill is an experienced award-winning freelance sports journalist.