Gayle may still play hurt

2008-01-10 00:00

There is still speculation that West Indies captain Chris Gayle will play in the third and deciding Castle Lager Test against South Africa starting at Kingsmead today.

Gayle fractured his left thumb during the second Test in Cape Town last week, and on Monday was officially ruled out of the third Test.

However, team manager Clive Lloyd hinted on Tuesday that he would like to see Gayle play because of the inspirational impact he has on the team, and yesterday South African captain Graeme Smith told journalists that the Proteas are preparing for the Test as if Gayle were playing. “If he plays, we’re ready for him; in fact, we want him to play,” said Smith.

There was even more speculation when West Indies coach John Dyson, and not the captain or vice captain Dwayne Bravo, arrived at the traditional captain’s press conference on the eve of the third Test.

“His finger’s still broken. The medical advice is that he would be mad to play,” Dyson said when asked if Gayle would play. “It’s up to Chris — perhaps it will set miraculously in time for tomorrow.”

Both teams will be desperate for victory in the series-deciding match. The Proteas have won their last four series, and with tours to India, England and Australia in store, will want to maintain the momentum.

The West Indies last won a series when they beat India in the Caribbean in 2002.

Their victory in Port Elizabeth was their first Test win since they beat England in 2005, and many believe it marked a turnaround in their fortunes.

“We were disappointed that we didn’t play as well as we could have in the last session in Cape Town,” said Dyson.

“But the guys are pretty buoyant and they are motivated to try to take the turnaround further.

“We believe that if we play the best possible cricket we can, we will be very competitive,” he said.

“To my mind, there were only one and a half to two sessions in the two Tests when we were off the boil. Our sessions in the nets have been very good, the players have worked very hard, and now it’s important to take that on to the field.”

The West Indies will almost definitely have an all-seam attack and Smith indicated that South Africa were also considering selecting five seamers.

“Durban traditionally doesn’t take much spin,” he said. “Lately, I’ve been reluctant to go into a Test without a spinner, but an all-seam attack is under consideration.”

South African pace bowler Dale Steyn passed a fitness test late yesterday afternoon to determine whether he was fully recovered from the slight hamstring injury he sustained during the second Test. He will be available for selection to play in the third and deciding Test at Kingsmead.

“He bowled the equivalent of 14 overs in two sessions today, some of them at full pace,” said Proteas media manager Michael Owen-Smith.

West Indies pace bowler Fidel Edwards was also due to undergo a fitness test after pulling a hamstring in Cape Town.

Monde Zondeki, who was called into the squad as cover for Steyn, flew to Johannesburg yesterday evening to join his franchise, the Cape Cobras, who are playing the Highveld Lions in a Supersport Series match this weekend.


South Africa

Graeme Smith (capt), Herschelle Gibbs, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, Ashwell Prince (vice-capt), AB de Villiers, Mark Boucher, Paul Harris, Andre Nel, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Shaun Pollock, Monde Zondeki

West Indies: Chris Gayle (capt), Dwayne Bravo (vice-capt), Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Fidel Edwards, Daren Ganga, Runako Morton, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Rawl Lewis, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Patrick Brown, Pedro Collins, Brenton Parchment, Darren Sammy, Devon Smith

— Sapa.

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