West Indies called on veteran Chris Gayle on Thursday for the first two-day international matches against England in preparation for this year’s World Cup.
Gayle, the 39-year-old, powerful batsman, last played in a home game against Bangladesh in July and was able to rebuild an explosive opening partnership with Evin Lewis.
Lewis and Gayle missed the recent ODI series in India and Bangladesh. They were, however, included in a 14-man squad, in which the left-handed batsman Nicholas Pooran was called for the first time.
West Indies and England will face five ODIs at the conclusion of the test series, with hosts holding an invincible 2-0 lead ahead of the final in St. Lucia on Saturday.
“As we continue to prepare for the cricket World Cup, the upcoming series against the top ODI team is a great opportunity to assess where we are as a team,” said West Indies Chosen President Courtney Browne.
“This way we can identify all areas that need to be related to the selection and it helps the coaches to optimize their game strategy.”
Gayle holds the West Indian record for most ODI scores at 23 and is with 9,727 runs the second largest scorer in the format – only Brian Lara (10,405) follows.
His 215 against Zimbabwe in the 2015 World Cup also represents the highest score of a West Indian in a limited cricket.
“We welcome the return of Chris Gayle, who missed the last two series, and Ashley Nurse for injury, and we are pleased to introduce Nicholas Pooran to ODI Cricket for the first time,” said Browne.
“He is clearly a young player with undisputed talent and we believe he can add value to our middle class.”
Browne said fast bowler Shannon Gabriel would be considered for later in the series, although veteran batsman Marlon Samuels is unavailable for a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Spinner Jack Leach said England must prepare its batsmen to deal with various types of pitches and not just complain about unfamiliar routes if they are more consistent overseas.
England scored only 77 and 246 points before losing the first test in Barbados with 381 runs on a flat wicket. In the second test last week, they suffered a 10-wicket defeat when their batsmen scored 187 and 132.
“We need players to experience different surfaces,” said Leach, who had missed both test matches. “I do not know if it comes from the top or from the counties, but it’s a big deal. There are very few cases in which you spend 150 overs on the field and it is a paradise for beatings. “
Leach, a slow left-leaner who has honed his skills in a Taunton field with a turning point, scored 18 goals as England drew 3-0 in Sri Lanka last November.
The 27-year-old, however, said that England has a tendency to see turning doors negative. “But if it goes around, that does not bother us, it has to be addressed, as they mark the pitches,” he added.
“As much as I think that rotating playing fields are important, even on flat games, you can not do things you did not do before.”