Chris Gayle at the Dickson Tradies Club on Saturday. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Chris Gayle is poised to recapture his big-hitting best and spoil Ricky Ponting's farewell party at Manuka Oval on Tuesday, West Indies skipper Darren Sammy says.
The West Indies arrived in Canberra on the weekend to prepare for the clash with the Ponting-led Prime Minister's XI and their five-game one-day international series against Australia.
And with Sammy backing Gayle to bounce back to form, the West Indies believe Sri Lanka's impressive performances in Australia have opened the door for the Twenty20 world champions to reap similar success.
Chris Gayle against the Prime Minister's XI in 2010. Photo: Graham Tidy
Gayle is returning to the capital for the first time since his 146 off 89 balls against the PM's XI three years ago.
But Gayle, one of the most devastating batsmen in the world, failed to fire during his Big Bash League stint with the Sydney Thunder. In seven matches he scored one half-century.
But on his return to the West Indies, he blasted 85 and 122 not out in his two matches for Jamaica.
''I'm expecting him to have a good tournament as a whole over here,'' Sammy said.
''[After the Big Bash] he came back home and looked really good and I think almost had the most runs in the series after a couple of games with a 100 and an 80.
''We all know what he's capable of … I remember Chris Gayle hitting the ball all over the park when we were last here and this Prime Minister's match is a good start to our tour.''
The PM's XI match will be the first game under lights at Manuka Oval.
Eight days later the Australian team will play its first match in Canberra as part of the capital's centenary celebrations.
The West Indies will wait until Tuesday morning before finalising its team, but, barring injury, coach Ottis Gibson is likely to give Gayle another chance to deliver fireworks in Canberra.
While Australia's rotation policy has come under fire this season, Sammy said the West Indies could not afford to continually change its roster.
But Gibson said: 'Sometimes you have to make those tough decisions in the best interest of the team.
''I don't know if [Australia] is vulnerable [because of the rotations], but with three formats in world cricket it's difficult to have everyone playing every match.
''As coaches you have to manage players. I've seen a bit about the Aussie thing, but if you look at injury history sometimes you have to make those decisions and you've got to live with it.
''We try not to get caught up in that though, we're just gearing up for five tough one-day internationals.''
The West Indies will also be bolstered by Ramnaresh Sarwan's return after a 19-month absence.
As well as Gayle and Sammy, they also boast Kieron Pollard and Darren and Dwayne Bravo.
The PM's XI will be led by Ponting with Brad Haddin also fit for the match.