West Indies coach Ottis Gibson is hopeful Chris Gayle will be fit for the first Test against New Zealand, which starts Sunday at Sabina Park in Jamaica. Gayle had suffered a back injury after the World T20 in Bangladesh and missed a few games for his franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2014.
After his team’s run in the T20 league ended, he travelled to Germany to consult a specialist for his injury.
“He’s here. He was told he had to be at the camp on June 1,” Gibson said.
“He went to Germany to see a specialist so over there, he had some injections for his back. The specialist said he would need to take a couple of days rest and after which he should be able to take full part in cricket. The first Test match starts on June 8, so he has enough time to get enough cricket. He had a couple of hits in the nets today and he did some catching on the field, so he has enough time, once we get to Jamaica, to get himself settled down.”
Apart from Gayle, the squad for the first Test also has fit-again pacers Jerome Taylor and Kemar Roach and a spinner Sulieman Benn. Taylor and Roach returned from long injury layoffs, while Benn has not played a Test since December 2010.
Shane Shillingford, who was cleared for an international return after rectifying his bowling action, is likely to play his first Test since the suspension. With Sunil Narine absent from the squad, the spin-bowling department comprises Shillingford and Benn but Gibson was reluctant to commit to a two-spinner strategy in Jamaica.
“We have to get there first. What we do is we tend to get there first and see the conditions and then think of the make-up of the team,” Gibson said.
“We have three quality fast bowlers who have done well this week and two world-class spinners, with Benn coming back into the team after a long absence and Shane, who’s had his issues with his bowling action and stuff. We are very happy we have two of those guys in our midst. If the wicket suits two spinners, then I guess two spinners can play. If not, we have three quality seamers that will take the field.”
Gibson was pleased with the form of the batsmen and bowlers during the practice matches against local opposition, held as part of the preparatory camp in Barbados.
“Darren Bravo got a hundred in the first game, Kraigg [Brathwaite] came in and he got some runs yesterday. Shiv [Chanderpaul] spent some good time in the middle,” he said.
“The reason why we come here and prepare ourselves physically and then we do a lot of technical work is to make sure that when we get to Jamaica it is just about performing. In Jamaica, we will have a look at the conditions, the pitch we are likely to play on we pick the best possible team from the 13 guys we have and we work really hard and try and win the first Test match.”