Star West Indies batsman Chris Gayle won't be seen on this cricket tour of New Zealand, after all.
Captain Dwayne Bravo put an end to speculation around the powerful opener by confirming he would miss the tour-ending Twenty20 internationals in Auckland on January 11 and Wellington on January 15.
Coach Ottis Gibson said after the Hamilton test that it was hoped Gayle would return for the T20s as he recovers in Sydney from a hamstring injury, but that has now changed.
"Chris has a while to go. There's a lot of cricket to be played in 2014 for us and we don't want to rush him back too soon. We have a T20 World Cup to defend [in March/April] and he's going to be a big part of that tournament along with [Kieron] Pollard. We're going to allow them to take their time to recover," Bravo said in Nelson today.
"So there's no T20 in New Zealand for them. It's going to be a young West Indies team for the T20 series but you're still going to see some exciting cricket and it will be close."
Gayle suffered the hamstring tear in India in November and was originally expected to be sidelined for 4-5 weeks. He raised hopes of a return for the New Zealand tour last month when he appeared in Sydney and was photographed batting in the nets.
"He's doing his rehab there and it's the right approach. He flew himself over there to ensure he got the right treatment and therapy. He wants to come back fitter and stronger and there's a lot of cricket in 2014. He's in the right place, we keep in contact and he has a close eye on what is going on and always wishes us all the best. As a team we can't wait to have him back," Bravo said.
Allrounder Darren Sammy (hamstring) was booked for an MRI scan today but Bravo said he was essentially out of the tour after suffering the injury at warmups for game three. It left the tourists with 13 fit players to choose from for tomorrow's fourth ODI.
Heavy rain followed the team to Nelson today as both sides were forced to train indoors, ahead of tomorrow's Saxton Oval match.
But it cleared in the afternoon and local forecasters predicted a much-improved outlook for game day, with rain not expected to return until late evening.
West Indies face a huge task to recover from the Queenstown onslaught where New Zealand plundered 283-4 off 21 overs and Corey Anderson rattled up a world record 36-ball century. New Zealand won by 159 runs and the ODI series are level 1-1 with two to play.
"It was a great knock and you can't take that away from the guy. We're going to analyse some footage and it's going to be a different ball game tomorrow. We're going to make sure we don't make the same mistakes and go back to the basics like in the first game in Auckland; show some discipline and bowl one side of the wicket," Bravo said.
Meanwhile, New Zealand have a full complement of 14 to choose from, with paceman Tim Southee in the running to return from minor surgery on his big toe. Southee was hopeful of being fit to play but missed a chance to bowl at practice today and will test it out in the morning before he is passed fit.
- Fairfax Media
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