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Jamaicans to salute Gayle as Test begins
A full house is expected to show- up today to pay tribute to a national hero, as big left hander Chris Gayle will be making his 100th Test match appearance when the West Indies open their three-Test series against New Zealand at Sabina Park in Jamaica. Yesterday, there was tremendous buzz around the ground as fans were lapping up tickets for the encounter. The Test which is a five-day contest gives fans only one day of the weekend to take in the cricket and this is another factor that is playing in favour of a good attendance. Gayle’s jibe at the government saying that they have not been to kind to him, also seemed to appeal to the conscience of the public here and they are going to come in their numbers to show the big man that they are proud of him.
Denesh Ramdin, the new West Indies captain, said his team will look to make a winning start when the first ball is bowled at 10am (11am Eastern Caribbean time). The 29-year-old, who is only the second wicket-keeper to be appointed Test captain, also paid tribute to opening batsman Gayle. “It’s a special moment for Chris and myself and the fans are looking for a good show. The pitch looks good so we should have five days of good cricket. “It looks a good batting track, one that would give the batters some assistance early on and would then crack up later in the match and hopefully the spinners can get wickets when that time comes.” Ramdin said that after his team went down 2-0 to the Kiwis in New Zealand late last year he and his boys are looking to put that straight. “They outplayed us in their conditions and this is our conditions now, the last time in the Caribbean we outplayed them and we are going to look to do that once again.”
The man from La Romaine South Trinidad said they had a plan of attack and hopefully the players could execute when they went out there.
He said: “The batters have to play a big role, they need to get a big score, play intelligent cricket and bowlers then have to stick to the basics. If we win the toss we are going to bat first on that track and what we have to do is to aim to bat out the day. “We have not been batting for long periods and this is something we have to continue to try to improve.” Ramdin paid tribute to the work that legends Sir Gary Sobers and Sir Curtly Ambrose had been doing with his team. “Sir Gary and Sir Curtly did their part in the camp and the guys would take that into their game,” he said. “Curtly has been doing a fantastic job with the bowlers and he continues to be a great presence for us. One hopes that the bowlers can take what he has imparted unto them into the Test match.”
Although New Zealand will be away from home, Ramdin thinks that they are still a dangerous team. “New Zealand is a very exciting team, Brendon McCullum and his boys are a dangerous bunch and we have to play at our best to give the better of them,” Ramdin said. “He has dangerous players like Ross Taylor and Kane Williamson and we are aware of what they bring. Their bowling attack is also pretty good, so it would not be an easy time for us.” Ramdin also paid tribute to Gayle and acknowledged that the match would carry greater significance with the opener reaching his milestone. He said: “Chris is amazing to have around our team and it is great to know that he has no plans of retiring soon because he is a die hard West Indies player and fan and wants this team to do good. We are all here to support him and we are looking for something special from him in this Test.
West Indies: Kieran Powell, Chris Gayle, Darren Bravo, Marlon Samuels, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Kraigg Brathwaite, Kirk Edwards, Denesh Ramdin (capt & wk), Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Jason Holder, Shane Shillingford, Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel.
New Zealand: Hamish Rutherford, Tom Latham, Peter Fulton, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Brendon McCullum (capt), Jimmy Neesham, BJ Watling (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner, Mark Craig, and Trent Boult.