Belfast - The recall of Chris Gayle to the West Indies ODI
squad, for the first time since the 2015 World Cup, has dominated the countdown
to the upcoming five-match series against England.
But Gayle - one of the biggest draws in the game - is likely
to make his first appearance against Ireland on Wednesday.
Gayle arrived with the 15-man squad in Northern Ireland on
Monday after the West Indies board announced an amnesty which has also seen the
return of Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor.
Previously players had to be available for the corresponding
domestic tournament before being selected for limited-overs internationals or
Samuels last played in October 2016, but was dropped for the
tri-series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe the following month, but while Gayle
played in the one-off T20 game against India in July, his next ODI will be his
first since the 2015 World Cup.
Taylor's last ODI was in July 2016.
"The panel welcomes back Chris Gayle and Marlon
Samuels, who will both add value to our batting and help with the nurturing of
the young batsmen in the team," said chairman of selectors Courtney
The selectors will also hope the experienced pair - Samuels
is 36 and Gayle celebrates his 38th birthday on the day of the second ODI
against England next week - can help West Indies qualify for the next World
But unless they beat Ireland and then win four of the five
games against England they will find themselves in the qualifying tournament
next March, along with Ireland, Afghanistan and hosts Zimbabwe.
Only two qualifiers will join the top eight in the rankings
at the end of this month at the 2019 finals in England.
After his selection, Gayle confirmed he wanted to play in
"The fans were happy to see me back on the field
representing West Indies," said Gayle.
"Hopefully, things can get better. Hopefully I can play
a few more games.
"I definitely want to play the 2019 World Cup.
"Things are beginning to open up a little more now
between players and the board. It's looking good, and we've to try and build
from this to get the best players out on the field."
Only six of the Test squad that has just completed the
three-match series in England are staying on for the white-ball action - which
also includes a one-off T20 against England on Saturday - but Roston Chase is
the only player dropped from the squad that lost 3-1 to India in the home
series in July.
If the weather allows - and the West Indies arrived in
Belfast in rain and more is forecast for the next 48 hours - they should gain a
morale-boosting win against the newest Full Member, who have failed to win any
of their last nine games.
It is also the beginning of the end of John Bracewell's
two-year reign as Ireland coach.
The New Zealander steps down in December and will be
succeeded by former South Africa and Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford, who was
appointed on a three-year contract last week.
Ford will not be at the match but the players know their
performances will be scrutinised by the new coach and, with the likelihood of
facing West Indies in the World Cup qualifiers, long-serving captain William
Porterfield, who has a virtual full-strength side, said: "We want to lay
down a marker."