Flamboyant Chris Gayle says he is relishing the prospect of opening the batting with inform Dwayne Smith when West Indies begin their Twenty20 series against Ireland, today.
Gayle has returned to the regional side following an injury in India last November while Smith has been recalled on a wave of impressive batting displays.
“This partnership’s a reality,” declared the aggressive Jamaican opener after a training session with his teammates.
“He (Smith) is in good form and it would be nice to have a Dwayne Smith atop your batting order.”
Smith was named MVP of the just ended NAGICO Super50 tournament on the heels of equally outstanding performances for his former Indian Premier League (IPL) team Mumbai Indians during last year’s IPL and the Champions League T20.
The prospect of Gayle and Smith opening for West Indies is expected to be a major appeal for regional fans as the Caribbean side also prepares to defend its World T20 title later this year.
“He can get the pressure off you,” said Gayle.
“His form is spot on and we’re all happy to have him back. It would give me room to bat a bit more freely.”
Gayle said he is “99 percent” fit and ready to take on Ireland in the first T20 at Sabina Park.
“As everyone knows I had an injury last year but I have done my work and I’m happy to be back in the set-up. This is just my first training session back at the ‘peak’ level so I will see overnight how the body comes through and I will gradually ease back into the team after assessing his body,” he told journalists.
“It’s good to be back again and I’m looking forward to the first game and getting that feeling back out there in the middle again. I haven’t trained this intensely for a couple months so I hope to get a kick-start and get back into the groove of things as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, middle-order batsman Marlon Samuels says he is eagerly looking forward to his return to international cricket after injury forced him out of the New Zealand tour last December.
The 33-year-old has been recuperating from minor surgery on his wrist.
“The intention is to make a positive return...since the operation I have been putting in a lot of work. I have been in the nets batting and have been hitting the ball fairly well, so the hope is that everything will remain the same throughout the series.
“It is always a joy playing in front of your home crowd and I know the guys are up and ready to compete,” Samuels said.
“Ireland may not be a super power in cricket, but it is Twenty20, and given the nature of the format, it is here that they are more than likely to upset big teams. It means, therefore, that we will need to buckle down and play the cricket that we know.”
First ball at Sabina Park today is at 3 p.m. (TT time).
West Indies: Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
Ireland: William Porterfield (captain), Alex Cusack, George Dockrell, Tim Murtagh, Andrew McBrine, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Andrew Poynter, Max Sorensen, Paul Stirling, Stuart Thompson, Gary Wilson, Craig Young