London: West Indies captain Darren Sammy left the door open for former skipper Chris Gayle to return in the remainder of the Test series against England after the tourists' defeat in the opener at Lord's. West Indies went down to a five-wicket loss on Monday to fall 1-0 behind in the three-match series.
They did so without dynamic opening batsman Gayle, who has not played international cricket for more than a year following a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). But Gayle said earlier this month he would not be honouring his contract with county side Somerset so as to make himself available to the West Indies during this tour of England.
As he was not chosen in the Test squad, it had been thought Gayle would return to the side for the one-day series against England, which starts in Southampton on June 16. Gayle has been playing in the lucrative Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition but his IPL commitments have finished after the Royal Challengers Bangalore were eliminated from the tournament.
Although his fraught relationship with the WICB means it is unlikely Gayle will feature in the Test series, especially as the second match starts on Friday at Trent Bridge, Sammy refused to rule him out completely. "Whatever happens outside this squad takes its own course," Sammy told Sky Sports. "Whoever comes in we will welcome them into the team and hopefully they will help. It is up to the selectors to select the team."
West Indies have suffered a series of top-order collapses in Gayle's absence and twice did so again at Lord's. Sammy said the left-hander's experience and undoubted talent would be welcomed by all the squad and West Indies coach Ottis Gibson. "I think Chris has said he is available for Test cricket, one-day cricket and T20 so it is up to the selectors," Sammy said.
"We have been having some difficulties at the top of the order and if he comes in we would all welcome him, myself, Ottis and all the guys." Another change the West Indies are more likely to consider at Trent Bridge is the inclusion of specialist spinner Shane Shillingford.
The 29-year-old off-break bowler was omitted at Lord's, with part-timer Marlon Samuels providing the tourists with a measure of spin, as it was felt conditions wouldn't suit the Dominican. But having taken 10 wickets in his last Test appearance, against Australia on his home ground in Roseau last month, Shillingford could return in Nottingham.
"Shane was experiencing a bit of difficulty gripping the ball but in the course of this Test match he has done some work and hopefully his fingers will be warm enough and ready for him to play for us in the next match," Sammy said. "He played a crucial role in the last series and once he is ready to master the cold we will have him in."