Gayle to make Test return
Chris Gayle is set to make his return to Test cricket when the West Indies face New Zealand in Antigua on Wednesday.
Last Updated: 24/07/12 5:00pm
Chris Gayle is set to make his return to Test cricket when the West Indies open their two-match series with New Zealand in Antigua on Wednesday.
The former captain has not played a Test match since December 2010 due to a stand-off with the West Indies Cricket Board.
But he is back in the fold for the contest with the Black Caps at Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground as the Windies bid to improve on a record of just one victory in their last 10 series in the longest form of the game.
Gayle returned from the international wilderness in one-day international and Twenty20 series in England and has also featured in limited-overs contests against the Kiwis recently.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy has had to try to marshal a promising but inconsistent team in Gayle's absence and is delighted to have the experienced opener at his disposal.
"It is very exciting to have Chris back. I know he is looking forward to being back out in the white clothes."
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is no longer a limited-overs option for the Windies, is another batsman who Sammy believes will continue to shine in the Test arena.
"It's not just Chris, but Shiv, who is always ready for battle, and everyone in the team," Sammy added.
"We are eager to get started. With Chris coming back, we have the experience at the top of the order; we can see off the new ball and put up some good totals on the board.
"You would back our bowlers to come and get 20 wickets for us."
West Indies have already beaten New Zealand 2-0 in a Twent20 series and 4-1 in a one-day international series and are eager to carry that form over into the Test series.
Sammy said: "We haven't won a (Test) series at home for a long time.
"We're playing some good cricket at the moment - we showed encouraging signs when we played (at home) against Australia back in April and we want to show that we are growing as a team."
Sammy's opposite number Ross Taylor is optimistic his team can hit back after their ODI and Twenty20 disappointments.
The tourists are hoping Daniel Vettori, who took six wickets in the warm-up match against a President's XI, will continue to pose problems for home batsmen.
"You can't pay for experience. Vettori showed what a class player he is during the three-day match and will be handful on that wicket against what is a good West Indies team," Taylor said.
"We will need to bowl well against their left-handers."