l GROS ISLET
Chris Gayle, one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket, was due to fly into St. Lucia yesterday to bolster Jamaica's chances of capturing the only regional title that has eluded them.
Talismanic opener Gayle will replace the injured Andre McCarthy in the line-up, and is expected to play the side's final match of the preliminary round of the Caribbean T20 against Combined Campuses and Colleges today.
The Jamaicans have already strengthened their play-off chances by brushing aside Guyana and are the favourites against CCC at the Beausejour Cricket Ground.
They are hoping to advance to the two-team play-off on Saturday, and a possible clash in Sunday's final with defending champions and unbeaten Trinidad and Tobago.
"The Jamaica Cricket Association sought approval for Gayle to replace McCarthy who is unavailable due to an injury," said a statement from the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) yesterday.
"The WICB Caribbean T20 2013 Technical Committee approved the replacement".
Gayle was not included in the original squad because of his contract with Sydney Thunder in the ongoing Australian Big Bash League.
The big-hitting left-hander is joining the Caribbean T20 roughly one week after emerging from a run drought to hit the fastest half century in the Big Bash tournament.
His presence is expected to lift the fortunes of Jamaica, currently second in the tournament standings with 13 points from five matches.
The former Jamaica and West Indies captain was a crucial member of the West Indies team that won the ICC World T20 trophy in Sri Lanka last year. In his T20 career he has played 125 matches and scored 4,475 runs at a strike rate of 152.10.
Gayle has scored a record eight centuries, and hit a whopping 316 sixes.