'Universe Boss' all set to fire
MANCHESTER, England, (CMC)
The return of the self-proclaimed 'Universe Boss', Chris Gayle, to West Indies one-day colours following a two-year absence is expected to strengthen the Caribbean side's batting in the upcoming five-match series against England.
But while his 9,221 runs from 269 one-day internationals speak volumes, captain Jason Holder said yesterday it was the 37-year-old's wealth of knowledge which would be a major asset to the squad off the field.
"Chris is always a guy who shares his advice [and] shares his input. Sometimes he tends to let things happen in terms of giving players the leeway to execute and free themselves," Holder explained.
"We always stress on that in the dressing room, where we're not complicating or clogging players' minds as to what game they want to play.
"And Chris has been a really good exponent of that over the years for himself. He's been very clear on his game plans and how he wants to go about his cricket, and that's one thing he has brought to the group - just be yourself and just express yourself."
He added: "He's been obviously one that players tend to go to in terms of seeking advice and he's never shy of a word to give them as much advice and guidance as he can."
Gayle, a former Windies captain, is set to play his first ODI since the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, when the West Indies take on England at Old Trafford today.
The left-hander has largely plied his trade in the shortest format in recent years, but has recently expressed a desire to represent the Caribbean side at the 2019 World Cup scheduled for England.
Freed for selection after Cricket West Indies shelved their controversial eligibility rule, Gayle was an automatic choice for the current tour and Holder said he had already brought his flamboyant personality to the camp.
"So far, Chris seems to be in really good spirits," Holder told reporters.
"He's always a lively character in the dressing room and he's been really good for us, so I don't expect anything different from him in the series."
With Gayle and most of the leading players barred from selection, West Indies suffered adverse results off the field and failed to qualify for the Champions Trophy staged here earlier this year.
Those results - they have won just three of their last 20 ODIs - have also left them unlikely to achieve direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup as they languish ninth in the ICC rankings.
However, Holder said past disappointments were now behind the squad and the focus was squarely on the current series.
"That's in the past. Obviously, we didn't qualify for the Champions Trophy so it wasn't ideal but it was the situation," the all-rounder stressed.
"We can't dwell on that, we've got to move forward and shift our focus here now in England. This is the current series we're up against. We need to take it step by step, game by game and formulate our plans and go out and try and execute them."