West Indies recall Chris Gayle to ODI side with view to Cricket World Cup
England spinner Jack Leach calls for change in policy on preparing pitches in England after Test series defeat
West Indies recalled veteran Chris Gayle on Thursday for the first two one-day internationals against England in preparation for this year’s World Cup.
Gayle, the 39-year-old hard-hitting batsman, last played for West Indies during a home series against Bangladesh last July, and could renew an explosive opening partnership alongside Evin Lewis.
Lewis and Gayle both missed the recent ODI series in India and Bangladesh but have been included as part of a 14-man squad that saw left-handed batsman Nicholas Pooran called up for the first time.
West Indies and England will contest five ODIs following the conclusion of the Test series, in which the hosts hold an unassailable 2-0 lead ahead of the finale in St Lucia on Saturday.
“As we continue our Cricket World Cup preparations, the upcoming series against the top ranked ODI side is a great opportunity for us to gauge where we are as a team,” West Indies chairman of selectors Courtney Browne said.
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“This allows us to identify any areas that need addressing relating to selection and also helps the coaching staff to fine tune their game strategy.”
Gayle holds the West Indian record for most ODI hundreds with 23, and is their second-leading run scorer in the format with 9,727 runs – trailing only Brian Lara (10,405).
His 215 against Zimbabwe in the 2015 World Cup also represents the top score by a West Indian in limited-overs cricket.
"We welcome the return of Chris Gayle who missed the last two series and Ashley Nurse from injury. We are pleased to introduce Nicholas Pooran to the ODI cricket for the first time," Browne said.
"He is clearly a young player with undoubted talent and we believe he can add value to our middle order."
Browne said fast bowler Shannon Gabriel would be considered for later in the series, although experienced batsman Marlon Samuels is unavailable due to a knee injury.
Leach seeks new attitude
Meanwhile, spinner Jack Leach said England must prepare their batsmen to handle different types of pitches and not just complain about unfamiliar tracks if they are to be more consistent overseas.
England scored just 77 and 246 before losing the first Test in Barbados by 381 runs on a flat wicket. They then suffered a 10-wicket defeat in the second Test last week as their batsmen posted 187 and 132.
We need players to experience different surfaces. I don’t know if that comes from the top or the counties, but it’s a big thing
“We need players to experience different surfaces,” said Leach, who missed both Test matches. “I don’t know if that comes from the top or the counties, but it’s a big thing. There are very few times where you spend 150 overs in the field and it’s a batting paradise.”
Leach, a slow left-armer who has honed his skills on a Taunton pitch that offers turn, picked up 18 wickets as England completed a 3-0 sweep at Sri Lanka last November.
However, the 27-year-old said England had a tendency to view spinning wickets negatively.
"But if it's seaming around we're not too bothered. That needs to be addressed, how they mark pitches," he added.
"So as much as I think spinning pitches are important, playing on flat ones, too. You can't do things you haven't practised before."
Updated: February 7, 2019 07:26 PM