CARDIFF, Wales –Chris Gayle believes the West Indies have it in them to beat all-comers and win the ICC Champions Trophy for a second time. The powerful left-handed opening batsman said winning the mini-World Cup won’t be an easy task, but the players from the Caribbean are prepared to fight hard.
“We are switched on! We can win it! The last time, nine years ago, no one thought we would win it but we did. It was a great feeling and we would love to win it again for the people back home and those all over the world who support us. We have a good fan base here, a lot to play for, with a lot of West Indians living here who will come out and support us. We can use that victory (2004) and we can use the T20 victory last year as positives as we look ahead to this tournament,” Gayle said.
“We have a very good allround team so I don’t see any reason when we can’t go all the way again. We have to stick together, and I think we are very good at that. We have (Dwayne) Bravo as a new captain and the support will still be there for him as captain similar to when (Darren) Sammy was captain for the World T20 last year.”
Gayle was speaking on Friday as the Windies had a full training session at the Swalec Stadium, where they have been in camp all week. They will play an official warm-up match against Australia on Saturday at the same venue. First ball in the day/night match is 1 pm (8 am Eastern Caribbean Time/7 am Jamaica Time).
The 33-year-old was a member of the Windies team which won the ICC Champion Trophy in spectacular fashion back in 2004 under the captaincy of Brian Lara. He was also a leading member of the squad which played brilliantly to win the ICC World T20 Championship in Sri Lanka last October with Sammy at the helm.
“Everybody is looking forward to great things and I’m looking to give the team what required of me which is 100 percent. We have to take it in stride and play it one game at a time. We want to entertain the fans but what is more important is what the team requires at that particular moment to win,” Gayle said.
“I set targets from a team perspective. I always try to give the team a good start – this is going to key for us in these conditions – as I am the experienced opener at the top of the order. I will try to bat as many overs as possible and be there for a long period. Once I’m there you know the runs will come, so the others can bat around me. When you look at our group it will be difficult but we have to start with confidence and look to move forward.”
Gayle is one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. He has appeared in 242 ODIS and made 8,442 runs and taken 157 wickets with his clever off-spin. He has scored a record 20 centuries with a career best score of 153 not out.
“The goal is to get some runs for West Indies…I need to get some runs for West Indies…it’s long overdue. The last couple of (ODI) games I haven’t done well for my team so hopefully this tournament will be the turning point. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself but once my mental aspect is ready the whole body will be ready,” the Windies Number 45 added.
The ICC Champions Trophy will feature eight teams: Australia, England, India, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka and West Indies. The tournament will be played across three venues from June 6-23.
The Windies have been drawn in Group B alongside the Indians, the Pakistanis and the South Africans. They open against Pakistan on Friday, June 7 at the Oval and return to the famous venue on Tuesday, June 11 to take on India. The final preliminary match will be against the Proteas on Friday, June 14 in Cardiff.