LONDON, CMC – While historic Lord’s will offer the perfect stage for today’s Twenty20 International between West Indies and the ICC World XI, there is only one player likely to provide the box office aura the occasion demands.
Superstar opener Chris Gayle, the world’s finest Twenty20 batsman, will suit up for the 6 pm (1 pm Eastern Caribbean time) contest and is expected to be a massive pull as organisers seek to raise funds for five stadia in the Caribbean damaged last September by the passage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“It’s good to be in this sort of an event, especially when you have to give back and we all know the cause for this based on what happened in the Caribbean,” said the explosive left-hander.
“So this is something to uplift the Caribbean and hopefully we can get our stadiums back up and Caribbean people can get home cricket back into their territories as well.
“We’re looking forward to it, all the guys are here so hopefully it can be a nice competitive game … and everyone tries to entertain the crowd as much as possible.
“The turnout, I have no doubt about it. I’m sure you’ll have people coming out in their numbers which is fantastic so we just have to try and be the best we can be tomorrow.”
Gayle is the most successful ever T20 batsman with 11 436 runs at an average of 40 and a strike rate of nearly 149, while scoring 21 hundreds.
He is the only batsman score in excess of 10 000 runs and also make more than 10 centuries, and is just one of four batsmen to hit two centuries in T20 Internationals.
In the twilight of his career as he closes in on his 39th birthday, Gayle is still highly motivated and especially so for this fixture.
“We’re playing at one of the best venues in the world, the Lord’s cricket ground,” he said.
“[We have] good opponents in the World XI and that’s why it’s called the World XI so it should be very, very competitive battle especially with we as World champions – we’ve won it (T20 World Cup) twice.
“So it should be very, very competitive and a good showcase for some youngsters to showcase their talent as well. It would be good for them to make sure they do the best they can.”
He added: “They should actually enjoy the moment and enjoy the occasion. But I’ve played a couple of matches here and it’s nothing to be worried about. It’s just a one-off game – you see the ball, you smash the ball and the bowlers should just enjoy the moment as well.”
West Indies will be led by 2016 T20 World Cup hero, Carlos Brathwaite, with the likes of Andre Russell and Evin Lewis also included in the squad.
The World XI will be skippered by flamboyant Pakistani all-rounder Shahid AFridi.