West Indies coach Ottis Gibson told opener Chris Gayle to “enjoy his cricket” and be himself ahead of his return to international cricket, he has revealed.
Gayle, playing for West Indies against New Zealand after 15 months out of the side, was the highest run-getter in the limited-overs leg of the series with 138 runs in two T20Is and 220 runs in five ODIs. He scored 230 runs in the two Tests that followed, including a 150 in the first Test in Antigua to help West Indies take a series lead.
“He’s been back to his normal self. We had a chat when he came back into the team and I said, ‘Look, just be yourself; be the person that you are, the person that you were before all this stuff started and, more importantly, just enjoy your cricket’,” Gibson said.
“It seems to me that when our players go out into the world to play cricket, when you see them on TV, they look like they are enjoying their cricket. Sometimes when you see them on our TV, it doesn’t look like they are enjoying it as much. I just urged him to enjoy his cricket and if he wasn’t, to say so.”
West Indies won all three format legs against New Zealand, ending with a 2-0 Test series win, the first time since 2002 the side had won back-to-back Tests.
Gibson said West Indies needed experienced, committed players to move ahead.
“We need experienced players that are committed…committed to the cause of the team, whether that be fitness, whether that be attitude, whether that be supporting other people. But we need to change the culture around the team and culture change is difficult.”
One player who was an integral part of a struggling West Indies side in the last decade was batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan. He lost his central contract in 2010 owing to an “extremely indifferent attitude and sporadic approach towards fitness”, and played four Tests since, the last of which was in 2011, against India.
Sarwan had told BBC Sport in May, 2012, that he was hurt “mentally and emotionally” due to some stern words by the coach. Gibson, however, said he hadn’t closed the door on Sarwan.
“I’ve never had an issue with Sarwan. Never once in my three years here have I had an issue with Sarwan. I was very disappointed to hear [Sarwan’s interview with BBC Sport] because I don’t know where there was an issue. But I’ve always said we can’t go where we want to go without our experienced players.” (Cricinfo)