GAYLE 99% FIT AND READY TO FACE IRISH

“I’m 99% fit,” he said with a laugh. The big-hitting left-hander had just come off the field after entertaining a few fans with some massive shots into the stand.

“As everyone knows I had an injury last year but I have done my work and I’m happy to be back in the set-up,” he told local journalists. “This is just my first training session back at the ‘peak’ level so I will see overnight how the body come through and I will gradually ease back into the team after assessing his body.

“It’s good to be back again and I’m looking forward to the first game and getting that feeling back out there in the middle again. I haven’t trained this intensely for a couple months so I hope to get a kick-start and get back into the groove of things as soon as possible.”

West Indies will start the series with a T20 International on Wednesday. The second match is on Friday. First ball is 2pm (3pm Eastern Caribbean Time).

Gayle said he expected the locally-born players to step up in front of the home crowd as he saw the series as a “special occasion”.

“We have a few Jamaicans in the team. We have Santokie, Marlon’s back and Russell too. Santokie’s did pretty well and he was the best bowler in the CPL so it’s good for him to be given a crack at it in front his home-crowd,” Gayle noted. 

“This is a big boost for us going into the World T20s. West Indies have a lot of cricket to play leading into this tournament so we’re just looking to get past this (Ireland) series.”

The 33-year-old said it was a great possibility he would open the batting with Dwayne Smith, who was recently named MVP of the NAGICO Super50 tournament.

“This partnership’s a reality. He (Smith) is in good form and it would be nice to have a Dwayne Smith atop your batting order. He can get the pressure off you. His form is spot on and we’re all happy to have him back. It would give me room to bat a bit more freely.”

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