Friday, November 13, 2009

Chris Gayle wants tour to mark new beginning

Chris Gayle wants West Indies' tour of Australia to be the new beginning the region desperately needs after another round of strikes and disputes. While Gayle was a key figure in the four-month boycott as the side's captain, he is now charged with leading the reunification process that starts with the three-Test series of Australia.

It won't be easy as the old players mix with the new but one benefit of their marathon trip from the Caribbean to Brisbane, extended by half a day due to a delay in London, was that the 15-man squad has had plenty of bonding time. Before they departed the players spoke about leaving the distractions at home. While they were in the air Viv Richards was saying Gayle would have to change his attitude to show he wanted to be in charge.

Gayle is one of the most targeted men in the game, mostly for his love of lucrative one-day leagues over Test cricket. Now he is hoping to focus on peace and unity. "That's life," he said of Richards' comments. "I am trying to move on, it doesn't make sense to fight with each other. That's not the real cause to be here [in Australia]."

While Gayle is so laidback - even when severely jet-lagged - that he makes hippies seem stressed, he could snap if the criticism continues from the big names back home. "Our main focus is to represent West Indies well," he said after the side finally arrived in Brisbane on Friday afternoon. "The negativity, I won't take it on too much unless something might trigger out a line, and then I'll have to take it on, but that's the situation. If that situation occurs we'll deal with it at that point in time."

Since Gayle's last Test in England in May, West Indies have lost at home to Bangladesh while the main players were on strike over the pay and contractual disputes. He arrived in England a couple of days before the opening match, preferring to boost his bank balance with more games in the IPL, and was soon back-tracking after saying he wouldn't be so sad if Test cricket died.

When asked on Friday what the series in the Caribbean last year - which Australia won 2-0 - meant, Gayle said he couldn't remember much about it. The critics would say it showed his lack of interest in the game's traditional format but he did miss two games of that campaign with a groin injury and his head has been in the clouds for most of the week.

He does regret the damage caused by the strike that fractured an already split cricket region. "That's the last thing we wanted to do, bring the game into disrepute," he said. "Having said all that, it's after. This is a new beginning and hopefully things can be better from here on in."

As captain Gayle is now working with David Williams, the coach, and Joel Garner, the manager, in moulding the group into a unified unit. However, he knows they are starting from behind following the Bangladesh defeat and their early exit at the Champions Trophy.

"It set us back, to be honest," Gayle said. "But at the same time we have to move forward, trying to forget about what happened in the past. We're back to square one, it's a rebuilding process right now. Even though we're rebuilding we have a good chance of winning."

West Indies squad: Chris Gayle (capt), Adrian Barath, Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Narsingh Deonarine, Travis Dowlin, Brendan Nash, Denesh Ramdin (wk), Ravi Rampaul, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Jerome Taylor, Gavin Tonge

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