Desperate times call for desperate measures. With direct qualification to the 2019 cricket world cup on the line, West Indies is looking to Chris Gayle to turn on the heat. ‘The Universe Boss’ has been recalled into the Windies ODI squad for one-off ODI against Ireland in Belfast on September 13 and the five-match ODI series in England.
The 37-year-old, who has racked up 9221 runs in 269 ODIs returns after two years, having last played in the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The ‘Bad Boy’ of cricket also lit up the 2015 World Cup with his 215 against Zimbabwe.
The big-hitting West Indian who celebrates his 38th birthday on the day of the second ODI against England next week holds the world record for the highest individual Twenty20 score, an unbeaten 175 off 66 balls for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2013 Indian Premier League.
Gayle has been out of the West Indies ODI and Test set up after a long standing payment dispute with the West Indies Cricket board. With lucrative T20 Leagues paying lot better several West Indies players including Chris Gayle opted to play franchise cricket over domestic and international cricket. The WICB has now relaxed its restriction on players who pick foreign Twenty20 leagues paving way for Gayle’s return. 36-year-old seasoned batsman Marlon Samuels also makes a return, but Sunil Narine and Darren and Dwayne Bravo remain absent.
The next 6 ODIs are curial and could possibly ensure West Indies direct qualification for the 2019 World Cup in the United Kingdom. West Indies currently ranked 9th in the ICC ODI Rankings and are battling to overtake Sri Lanka in eighth spot for an automatic spot as the qualifying cut off. West Indies can reach 88 points but unless they beat Ireland and then secure 4 out of 5 wins against England, the Windies will find themselves battling it out in the qualifying tournament next March, along with Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.Gayle will be the key for the West Indies cricket team if they have to secure direct qualification, but it remains to be seen if the Windies old guard can bail them out.