World T20 is ‘gonna’ be a cracker: Gayle

Colombo: West Indies will get their first taste of action in Sri Lanka on Thursday when they face the host nation in the opening official warm-up match ahead of the International Cricket Council’s World T20 tournament.

The Windies arrived in Colombo on Tuesday morning after a 20-hour journey from Barbados. They hit the ground running on Wednesday morning with an open media session and photo-shoots, followed by a full training session in the afternoon at the P Sara Oval, home of the Tamil Union Cricket & Athletic Club.

One player eagerly looking forward to Thursday’s start is Chris Gayle, who summed up the mood in the team when he said: “It’s time to get going...this is what we’ve come here for.”

Gayle, the massive six-footer, is known worldwide as the most destructive batsman in the T20 format. He is the most successful West Indian in this version of the game with 757 runs in 23 matches at a strike rate of just under 144. His 117 against South Africa in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 is the highest score and only century by a West Indian.

“The World T20 is ‘gonna’ be a cracker! You can feel it already. We’ve only been here 24 hours and already you get the feeling there is something special in the air,” Gayle said on Wednesday morning. “We are away from home and we have to adapt to the conditions as quickly as possible. We want to make a solid start and look to put the other teams under some pressure.

“When you look at our team you can say we are well balanced. In these tournaments the best we achieved was the semi-finals in England back in 2009. We didn’t do so well when it was played at home back in 2010 so we want to get it together this time around. Once we stick to what we know, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go all the way.”

The 32-year-old added: “I’m really looking forward to it. There are a lot of competitive teams here. Every team has a chance to win ... there’s not going to be any walkovers. No one is going to take anyone for granted and we have to be at our best at all times. We want to get off to a good start and also look to be there at the end when the semi-finals and finals are played.”