LIGHTNING has struck the Dolphins for the second successive year with burly West Indian Chris Gayle no longer joining them for the current Ram Slam T20 competition. Late last year, expectation ran high when it was announced Gayle would be joining the team after three games of the competition, which started last Sunday, adding experience and massive hitting power to the line-up. Yesterday, as had been the case last season, the Dolphins announced Gayle would not be available this time around, his trip to Durban thrown to the wind after injuring his hamstring while playing for the West Indies against India in November. It was hoped he would play in the current One-Day series against New Zealand and then arrive in Durban, but he has been out of action since the mishap, opting out of his Dolphins commitment on medical advice. Gayle was disappointed his imminent arrival had fizzled out once again. “I am devastated as this is the second time I have been unable to play for the Dolphins because of injury,” he said. “I put everything into my rehab programme and know how much planning had been done by Jesse Chellan [KZNCU CEO] and coach Lance Klusener.” Chellan was obviously disappointed to hear the news, saying, “We received confirmation yesterday, from Gayle’s agent, that the recovery and rehab had not gone as well as expected. At this stage, estimates are that he will only return to full fitness by early February, which is too late for us. “This is a great pity as players and fans were looking forward to having a cricket superstar on our doorstep, especially after last season’s disappointment.” Klusener knows that his team must adjust and focus on what lies ahead, building on their good start when they beat the Titans by eight runs at Newlands on Sunday. “We are disappointed Gayle is not joining us, but we are confident with the current squad we have and hope to achieve our goals in the competition,” he said. The Dolphins head for Kimberley tomorrow to face the Knights at the De Beers Oval.