Gayle - Keep eyes on the prize
Basseterre, St Kitts — Chris Gayle has called on his team-mates to push hard for the series-winning victory on Wednesday when they face New Zealand in the third Digicel One-Day International.
West Indies have been dominant and lead the five-match Digicel Series 2-0 and a victory on Wednesday would see them clinch the series. Gayle warned to expect a fightback from the Black Caps, but remained confident the home side has the strength to overpower the visitors again.
“We have a good rhythm, we have a good thing going. We have a strong all-round team and we have executed our plans well. If we are the better team, then we should be able to go out and beat them and that’s what we will be looking to do again. We have some players who are bright prospects for West Indies cricket,” Gayle said at the official pre-match media briefing.
“We can’t take them (New Zealand) for granted. They might have a few injuries and a few experienced players might be missing, but they still have some quality players in their team. We can’t get complacent and think we have done the job because we are 2-0 up. We have to come out tomorrow and do the job and that would take us to 3-0.”
Gayle has been the dominant force with the bat. He was Man-of-the-Series in the Digicel T20s with scores of 85 not out and 53. He made an unbeaten 63 in the first Digicel ODI and 125 in the second – as he became the first West Indian to make 20 ODI centuries. All his runs have come at better than a run-a-ball.
However, Gayle told the Black Caps that if they believe his wicket was the only key to victory, they had better think again. He backed his other team-mates to step up and be counted.
“When you look at the last home series against Australia, other guys got runs – Pollard got a hundred and others did well. So far in this series I have made the most runs, Smithy [Dwayne Smith] got runs and Marlon [Samuels] scored a good hundred,” Gayle noted.
“The guys waiting are hungry and we are all capable of doing the job. It’s not about one individual making the team win. Yes, I have been getting runs, but we have others in the team who can do the job. Guys are looking to step up and do what is required for the team.”
The West Indies have decided to dedicate Wednesday’s match to the memory of Runako Morton, who played 15 Tests, 56 One-Day Internationals and seven T20 Internationals for West Indies between 2002 and 2010. He died earlier this year at age 33.
A hard-worker and fierce competitor, he started his career at the regional level for Nevis and graduated to play for Leeward Islands. He later moved to Trinidad & Tobago and was a member of the team which won the West Indies Cricket Board’s Caribbean T20 in 2011. Wednesday’s match will be at Warner Park on the island of St Kitts, the sister island of Nevis, where Morton was born and learned to play the game.
“The last time I was here was sad moment for the funeral of my friend Runako Morton. We are using this as a tribute game to Runako. As players, we came together and decided to pull this together,” Gayle said.
“This is one for Runako. I gather that his wife will be here for the match and we want to give his family and the crowd something to cheer about. We will wear his number on our shirts. We will put in the extra work and try to win tomorrow for Runako. It’s a Public Holiday and we are hoping for a huge turn-out.”
First ball on Wednesday is 9.30 am (8.30 am Jamaica Time).
FULL SQUAD: Darren Sammy (Captain), Dwayne Bravo (Vice Captain), Tino Best, Johnson Charles, Chris Gayle, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, Denesh Ramdin, Ravi Rampaul, Andre Russell, Marlon Samuels, Lendl Simmons, Dwayne Smith
DIGICEL 2012 SERIES - New Zealand to West Indies
Upcoming matches (All times local)
Digicel One-Day International Series
July 5: 1st Digicel ODI – West Indies won by 9 wickets at Sabina Park, Jamaica
July 7: 2nd Digicel ODI – West Indies won by 55 runs at Sabina Park
July 11: 3rd Digicel ODI – Warner Park, St. Kitts – 9:30 a.m.
July 14: 4th Digicel ODI – Warner Park – 9:30 a.m.
July 16: 5th Digicel ODI – Warner Park – 9:30 a.m.