By Marlon Munroe
West Indies captain Chris Gayle says his team will not be underestimating any of its opponents as it looks to start this year’s ICC World Twenty20 championship on a winning note.
Gayle yesterday signalled that the West Indies would be looking to stamp its authority when it plays Ireland in the opening match on Friday at the Guyana National Stadium. He told a news conference at the Pegasus Hotel that although the players know the conditions, the home side will not be underestimating any opponent, whether it is a minnow or a powerhouse. “They might have a situation where there is nothing to lose and they might come out and play their best game. We [have] got to be prepared for all of these things coming at us and stamp our authority on them,” he said. “I am prepared for the worst but we are here to play good cricket and qualify just like any other team and we have to give them the respect and credit. They [Ireland] have been in the Caribbean long enough and I am sure they are accustomed to the conditions, based on the amount of cricket they have been playing,” he added.
As the team aims to better its semi-final placing at last year’s championships, Gayle explained that it will be looking to start on a winning note. He was particularly pleased that while some of the team’s best players competed in the just-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), the West Indies has been winning at home. He added that the players returning from the IPL could give the team the edge it needs in the tournament.
Gayle, who said he did not expect the team to have it easy, emphasised the need for the right balance of players. In this regard, he said its practice match against New Zealand tomorrow will likely reveal the right combination for the tournament. “We want to get the balance right for the first game and you want the best team to play the warm up games to gain that momentum in this tournament and that will be our first priority. But [at this time] everyone is eligible for selection,” Gayle posited.
Gayle welcomed the return to form of the side’s most experienced batsmen, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, and he added that his own form at the top of the order would be vital for a successful foundation for his team. He also reported also that fans can expect a change in the approach of the batsmen since former team captain Jimmy Adams has started as batting coach.
When probed about the slumping middle order, Gayle said that a lot of emphasis is being placed on batsmen to do the right thing in the practice sessions.
At the moment, he said, he did not want to place too much pressure on the batsmen, in order to allow them to be relaxed going into the tournament.
In the bowling department, Gayle said that the return of pacer Jerome Taylor from injury will boost his team’s chances of routing opposing teams.