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Gayle's brilliance paves way for ACT

Date

David Polkinghorne

West Indies legends Michael Holding, Viv Richards and Joel Garner at Manuka Oval on Thursday.

West Indies legends Michael Holding, Viv Richards and Joel Garner at Manuka Oval on Thursday. Photo: Melissa Adams

Chris Gayle's return to the international arena is not only a boost to West Indian cricket but to Canberra's chances of attracting more games as well.

The original ''Master Blaster'', Sir Vivian Richards, said the end of Gayle's exile would help inspire a new generation of West Indies cricketers.

A sponsorship disagreement between Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board meant the exciting opening batsman sat out of the international arena for 15 months.

Master blaster . . . Chris Gayle.

Master blaster . . . Chris Gayle. Photo: Reuters

But he returned to the side in June and will tour Australia this summer.

He could play against the Prime Minister's XI on January 29 and then again on February 6 in a one-dayer - the first time Australia will play at Manuka Oval - both under the new lights.

With the Windies playing in Canberra twice, there is a good chance the ACT will see a repeat of his rapid-fire 146 from just 89 balls the last time he was here.

Richards said it was an opportunity too good to miss.

A big crowd could ensure future international fixtures were brought to the nation's capital.

''Make sure that the opportunity that's been given to you, that you do not waste it, it's a great opportunity,'' Richards said.

''Because you are in the capital and you wouldn't want to let the capital down in any particular way.''

Richards was in town as part of a speaking tour with fellow West Indies legends Joel Garner and Michael Holding to raise money for breast cancer.

They were excited about how Manuka has changed since they were first here more than 40 years ago and backed it to host a Big Bash League team before too long.

 

Fast bowling crisis

Much has been made of the depletion of Australia's fast bowling stocks due to injury, and Holding said the solution was simple - play less cricket.

He said he would never have lasted 12 years at top level if he had to play as often as the modern cricketer does.

Aussie quick Pat Cummins will miss the summer after he developed a stress fracture in his back.

All-rounder Shane Watson has continued his injury woes, missing the first Test against South Africa due to a calf problem.

James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc have all had injury concerns recently as well.

''It's difficult fast bowling, it's hard work, and although everyone is talking about the training that they are doing and they're monitoring so closely, but you will get injuries,'' Holding said.

''As far as I'm concerned there's too much cricket being played.

''It's so difficult to maintain that pace over a long period of time with the amount of games being played.''

 

No Twenty20 vision

Holding reiterated his position on the shortest and newest form of the game - he doesn't like it.

He believes it should be limited to the domestic level, with countries playing Tests and one-dayers.

''With the advent of Twenty20 cricket we are seeing less fast bowlers playing at the highest level, which in my opinion is Test match cricket, saying: ''We see fast bowlers withdrawing from Test cricket so they can prolong their careers in Twenty20 cricket. I don't see that as being good for the game.''

 

Richards no good at T20

Richards was the precursor to modern-day sloggers such as Dave Warner, but the Master Blaster said he would not have been a great Twenty20 player.

The No. 3 batsman felt with openers Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge batting before him he would rarely get a chance.

''With the team that I would have been playing in I would have had to beg for a bat because we had two guys who were pretty solid at the top … so I doubt I would have been given much opportunity,'' Richards said.

 

Lights out for Tests

Twenty20 cricket wasn't the only thing Holding disliked - he's also against playing Tests under lights.

''Instead of trying to attack the real problems in the game, they are bringing in more and more gimmicks to try and bring crowds back to Test-match cricket,'' he said.

''The real problem in the game is the lack of proper competitive cricket.

''When you see so much cricket being played, people no longer sit down and anticipate a series.''

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