Cricket: Windies back boasting Gayle's force

By David Leggat

West Indies' Chris Gayle. Photo / AP
West Indies' Chris Gayle. Photo / AP

The last time Chris Gayle was in New Zealand he was a one-man entertainment package.

Five years ago the strutting Jamaican clobbered 366 runs in three innings at Napier's McLean Park, including a more-than-likely match-saving 197 over eight and a half hours in the second test; averaged 101 in the tests; clouted 67 off 41 balls, then oversaw 25 coming off Dan Vettori's super over at Eden Park in a T20; and was the best crowd-puller seen in the country since the turn of the century.

Gayle scored 633 runs in 10 innings across the three forms of the game, discovering that the country's cricket grounds are too small for him and his broadsword.

Gayle, 34, is back with the West Indies this month and again shapes as a decisive figure in their ambitions for success in New Zealand.

Indeed the West Indies side looks a decent batting group but thin in bowling, apart from the prolific wicket-taking offspinner Shane Shillingford.

Then again, Shillingford has problems of his own.

A hop and a skip then a distinctly bent arm have had him in hot water with the judiciary more than once and he's again got to prove he bowls legally over the next fortnight to get cleared for action.

No Shillingford, with his deceptive doosra and ability to get bounce and turn, means the West Indies bowlers are likely to do it tough in New Zealand.

The batting group includes 39-year-old Shiv Chanderpaul, who is on his fifth tour of New Zealand. Chanderpaul has been an outstanding performer, averages 51 in 150 tests and so often has been the West Indies' rock while the flash and dash merchants come and go.

Among the latter category, Marlon Samuels will be one to watch. The 32-year-old has a touch of the virtuoso about him and can be explosive. Last summer he did what the world's best batsmen have long wanted to do - he flung his bat in the direction of legspin legend Shane Warne during a Big Bash League blowup.

World No6 against world No8 has the makings of a decent contest, but New Zealand certainly should not be quaking at the prospect.

West Indies test squad

* Darren Sammy (c), Chris Gayle, Kieron
* Powell, Kirk Edwards, Darren Bravo,
* Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine
* Chanderpaul, Denesh Ramdin,
* Narsingh Deonarine, Tino Best,
* Veersammy Permaul, Shane
* Shillingford, Shannon Gabriel, Sheldon
* Cottrell, Chadwick Walton.

Test schedule

* Dec 3-7: First test, Dunedin
* Dec 11-15: Second test, Wellington
* Dec 19-23: Third test, Hamilton.

- NZ Herald

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