He is back. With the issues being the WICB and Chris Gayle sorted out for now, the dangerous left-hander from West Indies will take the field for his national side as the ODI series begins at Southampton today. The last time Gayle played for West Indies was more than a year back. And while during his time away from Windies cricket, he has played almost every T20 league around the world, returning to international cricket will be a challenge even for the experienced West Indian. However, the good news is that he isnow available for all three formats of the game, and that can only benefit Darren Sammy and his team.
Speaking of West Indies’ chances in the series, they would believe there are in with a better prospect of competing as opposed to the Test series. Remember, the Windies drew the ODI and T20 series against the strong Australians back home. They would hope to go a step ahead against the Englishmen. West Indies have the men who can do the job for them in the shorter format of the game. While a lot will depend on Gayle, he will seek support from opening partner Lendl Simmons, who has played a few decent knocks in limited overs international.
The return of ODI specialists Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard should boost the batting line-up. Further, Marlon Samuels would be keen to carry on his good run into the ODIs as well. Darren Bravo is likely to retain his place in the team, but if he continues faltering it won’t be long before the selectors’ patience would run out. Since the Windies possess a weak bowling line up, they would be keen on the batsmen to come good. As for the bowlers, plenty would be expected of Sunil Narine. The real test for him has just begun. Among the other bowlers, all-rounders Andre Russell and Darren Sammy will have to be on the mark even as Ravi Rampaul will shoulder the responsibility of the pace attack.
Even though England would believe they have the upper hand in the one-dayers as well, they have problems of their own. The unexpected retirement of Kevin Pietersen has put their 2015 World Cup plans out of gear. With KP out of the way, Ian Bell has been recalled. However, even if he does well, Bell’s success won’t count for much as, like in the Test scenario, he has failed to prove his abilities away from home. Unless he does that, Bell cannot be considered a certainty for 2015 World Cup.
With the batting looking weak minus KP, Jonathan Trott and skipper Alastair Cook would have to shoulder a major portion of the responsibility. It is their strong bowling that could make the major difference. In James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann, they have three men who can exploit the Windies batting, like they did in the Tests. How West Indies respond to it will decide the course of the series.
-- By A Cricket Analyst