London: West Indies coach Ottis Gibson and captain Darren Sammy said they would have no problems with Chris Gayle returning to the squad after he promised to end his international exile on Thursday.
Former West Indies captain Gayle, renowned as a big-hitting batsman, has not played international cricket for more than a year following a dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) sparked by critical comments he made about officials in a radio interview. But on Thursday the 32-year-old Jamaican left-hander, currently starring in the Indian Premier League (IPL), announced he would not be honouring his contract with County side Somerset so as to make himself available for the West Indies during their tour of England, even though he'd received no guarantees about selection.
Although he was not chosen in the West Indies Test squad for a three-match series starting at Lord's on May 17, Gayle could now return to the side for the subsequent one-day series, which gets under way in Southampton on June 16. Gayle has not played for the West Indies since the 2011 World Cup, but has been in blistering form in the IPL, where he has made 81, 87, 4, 86 and 71 in his past five innings.
Gibson, speaking at Hove where West Indies begin their tour of England with a three-day match against Sussex starting on Saturday, said: "It's great to hear that Chris is available again. I'm sure the selectors will pick him, because he's world-class... He's the best one-day batsman in the world. If he's made himself available for the one-day series, I can't see him not being selected."
Meanwhile Sammy said Gayle would be welcomed back so long as he accepted the team's work ethic. "The Chris Gayle issue has been going on for a while. But we as a team have moved on," said Sammy. "When Chris joins the set-up, he will be coming into a very hard-working environment - which he has to fit into. We all know what he is capable of doing and we hope he could fit in nicely and do the job to take West Indies cricket forward."
"It will be very easy. He's the best one-day batsman in the world. So I don't think it will be a problem at all," the all-rounder said. "He plays very well, going into many different dressing rooms all around the world and making runs. I don't think coming into ours will be any different."
Gayle said he realised the gamble he was taking in turning down an agreed deal to play English domestic Twenty20 cricket for Somerset. "I understand that by making this decision, it may place me in a position of considerable risk, since I am foregoing a signed contract, without any guarantees whatsoever, with only the hope that I will be selected to play for the West Indies again," Gayle said. "I have now satisfied all of the requests of the WICB and their selection panel, with whom I met via teleconference yesterday [Wednesday], and to whom I reiterated previous assurances given to the board regarding my availability. So that there is no doubt, I confirmed to the selectors that I was available for West Indies duty in all forms of cricket, immediately following the conclusion of my contractual obligations to my IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore."
The IPL finishes May 28 while the limited-overs series in England is from June 16-24, and includes three one-day internationals and one T20 International. Following the England tour, West Indies return to the Caribbean to face New Zealand in two Tests and five ODIs from June 30 to August 6.
Gayle said he was now looking forward to returning to the West Indies side. "This has been a difficult time, and I wish to sincerely thank everyone who has supported me, my family and friends, and in particular cricket fans worldwide who have continued to show appreciation for me wherever I have played," he said. "I look forward to once again putting on the maroon, and resuming my international career and my service to West Indies cricket."