Gayle is returning to full force with 100th Test in sight

West Indies batsman Chris Gayle makes his 100th Test appearance next month, and the side’s fun-loving former skipper hopes to celebrate with a couple of impressive knocks at his home ground.

Despite a Sunday start to the first Test between West Indies and New Zealand, head of the Jamaica Cricket Association, Wilford “Billy” Heaven, believes it will turn out to be a success. It starts at Sabina Park, Kingston, on June 8 and ends on the Thursday. Heaven sees the 34-year-old Jamaican making some big scores to mark the occasion, which is guaranteed to pull in the crowds. Heaven believes that although four of the five playing days are regular work days, many will make an effort to attend because the match is so significant.

After a poor start in the Indian Premier League, which led to widespread criticism, Gayle returned to sparkling form with a knock of 46 to help Royal Challengers Bangalore beat Chennai Super Kings by five wickets over the weekend.

That innings partially answered his detractors. Gayle is widely hailed as the world’s best in the Twenty20 format.

He struggled to 130 runs in his first six matches in the IPL this season and appeared to be carrying an injury. Speculation was that he might sit out the remainder of the tournament. Then he hit the score on Saturday and temporarily dispelled notions of not being value for money in the lucrative league.

Gayle is one of the best batsmen of the modern era and has been in the West Indies Test team since making his debut in Trinidad in 2000 – although there was a period when he was suspended after a protracted dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board. He averages 42.01 in the format and has so far scored 15 hundreds and 34 half-centuries.

New Zealand will play three Tests and two Twenty20 Internationals while on tour. The second Test is in Trinidad at Queen’s Park Oval from June 16 to 20 and the third at the Providence Stadium, Guyana, from Jun. 26 to 30. The Twenty20 International series is at Windsor Park in Dominica on July 5 and 6.

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