MUMBAI, India, CMC – Once he is physically fit and willing, West Indies’ skipper Jason Holder wants Chris Gayle in the regional squad for next year’s World Cup.
Holder made the declaration, despite Gayle not being a centrally contracted West Indies cricketer and his decision to opt out of the Windies’ current tour of India to play in the Afghanistan Premier League.
The 2019 Cricket World Cup is scheduled to be hosted by England and Wales, from May 30 to July 14, 2019.
The 39-year-old powerful opening batsman signed off his List A career for Jamaica with a century against Barbados last week and will now play for Balkh Legends in APL.
“He (Gayle) is definitely going to play the World Cup once his body holds up and he’s fit. We’d welcome him into the team. If you go back to the beginning of the year, Chris made himself available for the World Cup qualifiers. He only did that really because he wants to play the World Cup, he wants to play well for West Indies and he wants to do well,” Holder said.
“Guys like him, Marlon Samuels, who really made themselves available on that instance (ICC Qualifiers), credit must go to them and not only them, to each and every individual who has come up to represent West Indies. They knew the significance and importance of that tournament; we played against teams we probably weren’t accustomed to playing against. It was difficult, but as the series went on, we rallied well and we achieved the objective.”
However, Holder went on the defensive when asked about Gayle’s choice of club over country.
He said Gayle’s exploits in international cricket had made him a household name in T20 leagues.
“When he does that – he has plenty of options around the world to make money – it says something about the individual, says something about what he wants and I really admire that. He was obviously a pivotal part in us qualifying to the World Cup,” Holder said.
“[But I’m] not worried. Chris is an All-Star and I think it’s clear he’s probably at the back end of his career now. He’s probably tapering off a bit. I just saw him play his last List A game for Jamaica, scoring a hundred against my home team, which is great to see. I enjoy having Chris around.
“I think he’s one of the most entertaining players in the world, but his absence gives another player an opportunity. We have a limited time leading up to the World Cup and it’s a good option to see what we have in the tank,” he emphasised.