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Gibson bullish upon Windies arrival

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West Indies coach Ottis Gibson has welcomed news of Chris Gayle’s potential availability for part of their tour of England, but is hopeful his team will be able to compete regardless of who takes the field this summer.

Gayle, who has not represented his country since last year’s 50-over World Cup, is currently on Indian Premier League duty with Royal Challengers Bangalore, but appears likely to feature in the limited-overs internationals against England after announcing today that he will not be representing Somerset in the Friends Life t20.

Gibson, whose team arrived in the UK yesterday and will take on Sussex in a three-day game from Saturday, is understandably pleased by such news, but also moved to express confidence in the players who have shown signs of promise in Gayle’s absence.

“It’s great to hear that Chris is available again. I’m sure the selectors will pick him, because he’s world-class,” said Gibson. “If he’s made himself available for the one-day series, I can’t see him not being selected.”

Asked whether he favours old or new personnel - Gayle is one of several high-profile West Indies players plying their trade at the IPL - Gibson said: “I’d like to go with whoever can help us win, whoever is available.

“A lot of those guys, because of IPL, have made themselves unavailable. You can’t pick guys that aren’t available.

“It’s a challenge. The IPL ... has taken away some of our big names, but our fans at home are seeing a better brand of cricket with our not-so-big names.

“Ultimately, people just want to see the team playing well - no matter who’s in it.

Darren Sammy

West Indies captain Darren Sammy shields himself from the rain at the PROBIZ County Ground, the venue for his team's opening tour match

“Last time we came (to England), we had a whole lot of big names - and the Lord’s Test was over in two-and-a-half days. We haven’t got the same big names now, but aim to be very competitive.”

They will have to do so, in the first instance at least, without Gayle - but Gibson, like many others, will be expecting plenty from the prodigal opener should he make his expected return.

He added: “It will be very easy (for him). He’s the best one-day batsman in the world. So I don’t think it will be a problem at all.”

He is optimistic too that Gayle will adapt to the Gibson-Sammy regime.

“He plays very well, going into many different dressing rooms all around the world and making runs. I don’t think coming into ours will be any different," he said.

Sammy will be happy to invite Gayle back in too - but, it seems, on the captain’s terms.

“The Chris Gayle issue has been going on for a while. But we as a team have moved on,” he said.

“In the last series we played we came out with a new attitude - where we are not going to let anybody keep us down. We are going to strive to move forward.

“When Chris joins the set-up, he will be coming into a very hard-working environment - which he has to fit into. As a captain, whoever comes into the dressing, I know the coach and I would welcome them.

“Obviously, we would urge them to contribute to the team’s success. If he is in, it is all good for us. We all know what he is capable of doing and we hope he could fit in nicely and do the job to take West Indies cricket forward.”

It is easy to forget that Sammy has more pressing concerns - namely how to galvanise a team ranked seventh in the International Cricket Council Test rankings against table-toppers sure to relish their home comforts.

He added: “The guys work hard for each other. Ever since coach Gibson came on board he has tried to instil the professional attitude. One of our team mottos is to display a positive, ’can-do’ attitude at all the times.

“The whole mindset is about doing it for the West Indies people. That is at the forefront of our minds. The guys are starting to shape like a family, and you can see that when we are on the field. For me the job is getting easier and easier.”

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