Will Chris Gayle see any action in the Ram Slam T20?

2014-10-31 00:00

DOMESTIC cricket turns its attention to the Ram Slam T20 competition, which starts with a triple-header involving all six franchises at the Wanderers on Sunday.

The shorter format of the game has tended to draw the bigger crowds in the past and credit must be given to Cricket South Africa (CSA) for coming up with the triple-header initiative that, weather permitting, should see the stands and grass at the Wanderers pretty full.

This year, the competition has been brought forward from its usual spot in the fixture list, which saw it at the tail end of the season after the one -day and four-day champions had been decided. Again, this is an effort by CSA to get spectators into the grounds and allow some Protea players to turn out for their franchises.

Last year, CSA conducted a survey as to why fan support had dwindled around the country and the major gripe concerned our national players not being on display. Well done to CSA for at least addressing the matter and being proactive.

Talking about appearances, the franchises earlier this week announced their overseas signings for the Ram Slam, which sees five West Indians and an England player joining the fray.

Despite the current pay dispute and cancelling the tour of India, the West Indian players are clearly no fools, cashing in on an opportunity to make up some lost financial ground, while their cricket board attempts to stabilise a turbulent scenario.

One of the signings is Chris Gayle who, to the relief of Dolphins fans and generally fans throughout the province, has been picked up by the Lions.

Sitting this side of the Vaal River, KwaZulu-Natalians must feel like naughty schoolboys taunting the Lions with more than a fair share of cynicism.

One can imagine the smile and laughter on our river bank as we look across and shout, “Good luck to you. Do you think he will even turn out for you?”

Here in Dolphins country, Gayle has become a sick joke (excuse the pun), having twice jetted into Durban, twice raised our hopes, twice taken delivery of his 317 Dolphins shirt — the number highlighting his highest Test score against South Africa — and twice quietly slipped away without setting a foot on the field other than for a photoshoot. Quite rightly we have washed our hands of him and, while the fortunes of the six teams in the Ram Slam will be followed with interest, the biggest focal point is whether Gayle will actually play.

It’s been said that there is a ruling of no play, no pay, and with all his injuries, Gayle’s finances must need some boosting.

Hence he has decided to infiltrate our country once more, this time well away from Durban, in the hope of perhaps staying in one piece long enough so he can have something with which to buy a meal at the airport as he waits to move on to his next port of call.

His recent escapades have seen him turn out for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League T20 and playing three ODIs, a Test and a rained-out T20 against Bangladesh.

This was all in August this year, one of his busiest months as far as playing goes, for many a day. However, he hasn’t played since and did not make an appearance in any of the matches played in India.

Maybe, just maybe, he was preserving himself for the Lions.

He is here. He had a press conference yesterday after surviving practice, but a betting man would fancy a gamble that somewhere during the competition there’s a likelihood he will end up in a crumpled heap in one of our cricket arenas.

Without sounding too cliché, it might be worth watching this space in the next month.

Ram Slam Triple Headers

Sunday — Wanderers

10 am — Knights v Warriors

2 pm — Cobras v Titans

6 pm — Lions v Dolphins

November 16 — Kingsmead

10 am — Titans v Cobras

2 pm — Lions v Warriors

6 pm — Dolphins v Knights

November 30 — Bloemfontein

10 am — Dolphins v Lions

2 pm — Warriors v Titans

6 pm — Knights v Cobras

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