Chris Gayle said opening partner Evin Lewis was “one to look out for” after the West Indies duo combined to good effect in a Twenty20 international against England on Saturday.
Gayle’s first match of the West Indies’ tour of England saw the big-hitting opener make a typically rapid 40 before he was run out at Chester-le-Street.
The powerful Jamaica left-hander, who did not feature in West Indies’ recent 2-1 Test series loss in England, hit three fours and four sixes in just 21 balls after England captain Eoin Morgan sent the tourists into bat.
Gayle’s boundaries included two sixes in as many balls off left-arm paceman David Willey, a pull followed by a straight drive.
But, ambling for a single after hitting the ball to backward point, Gayle was run out by Jason Roy’s throw to bowler Liam Plunkett to leave West Indies 77 for one in the seventh over.
“I’ve been playing cricket in the CPL (Caribbean Premier League) so came over with a bit of form,” Gayle told Sky Sports during the innings break.
“We had a hit yesterday (Friday) and I noticed the practice wicket was a bit juicy, the ball coming onto the bat nicely, so it was fantastic to get going.”
The 37-year-old Gayle, in common with several senior West Indies players, had been involved in a bitter dispute with Caribbean cricket chiefs.
But July saw him return to West Indies duty in a Twenty20 international against India in Kingston — his first major match for West Indies since they beat England in the World Twenty20 final in Kolkata last year.
The India match saw Lewis make a superb 125 not out.
Gayle and Lewis, who made 51, put on 77 for the first wicket at a chilly and rainswept Riverside on Saturday.
“I’m enjoying batting with Evin,” said Gayle. “He has eased the pressure off me so we can dictate the way we go about it — but he won’t stop! I can slow down a bit but he won’t!”
He added: “Evin is one to look out for in the future too, especially in ODI (one-day international) cricket.” AFP / SAMAA