West Indies coach Ottis Gibson wants more runs from his top order and believes the return of Chris Gayle will help them to do just that as they take on England in the first of three Twenty20 Internationals at Kensington Oval, Barbados bowling off at 2:30 p.m. today.
Gayle missed the three-match One-Day International series, which England won 2-1, due to injury during which time the West Indies top order failed to provide a solid start to the innings, forcing the middle and lower order to rally and get them to competitive totals.
“It is very clear to see that we need contributions from the top four and having Chris back gives us a lot of strength at the top and some experience as well,” Gibson told the media yesterday.
The coach feels the home team has a great chance of beating England in the shortest form of the game and said that they will be using the three matches as preparation for their title defence at the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh later this month.
“We have IPL (Indian Premier League) superstars. We have the best T20 bowlers and the best batsmen in the world,” said Gibson referring to spinner Sunil Narine, opening batsman Gayle and all-rounder Dwayne Bravo who were all retained by their respective IPL franchises for the 2014 season.
“Yes we miss (Kieron) Pollard, but we have a group of guys here who are capable of winning this series and the World Cup,” he added.
Darren Sammy returns to the helm of the team for the T20s and believes that putting the visitors under pressure could be the key to success in what he expects to be a “run fest.”
“Yes England did win the one-day series but we showed that once we put them under pressure they didn’t respond too well, so we are looking to do that in the T20s. We expect it to be a run fest and hopefully we can entertain the crowd and come out on top,” said Sammy.
“We normally have great matches here. England and West Indies always have these good battles and we are expecting that tomorrow,” he added.
Speaking about his team ahead of the World T20, Sammy believes it is more seasoned now than it was when West Indies won the title two years ago.
“We are now much more experienced. The guys have gained exposure all over the world and we still have the core players (from two years ago) and we know once we perform to our full potential we will be the team to beat. When we get to Bangladesh it will be a fresh start. It is going to be a challenging task to defend it but I believe we have the quality in the dressing room to do that,” Sammy concluded.
West Indies (from): Darren Sammy (captain), Samuel Badree, Dwayne Bravo, Johnson Charles, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Krishmar Santokie, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith.
England (from): Stuart Broad (captain), Eoin Morgan, Moeen Ali, Ravi Bopara, Tim Bresnan, Jos Buttler, Jade Dernbach, Harry Gurney, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Michael Lumb, Stephen Parry, Ben Stokes, James Tredwell, Luke Wright.