Chris Gayle’s availability a 'priority' when deciding dates for rescheduled Everest Premier League

West Indies batsman was set to become the biggest star yet to play in Nepal’s largest franchise competition, only for coronavirus to intervene

LEEDS, ENGLAND - JULY 04: Chris Gayle of West Indies acknowledges the crowd as he walks off after being dismissed by Dawlat Zadran of Afghanistan during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Afghanistan and West Indies at Headingley on July 04, 2019 in Leeds, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Organisers of the Everest Premier League say Chris Gayle’s availability will be a priority when finding a suitable date to reschedule the competition.

Gayle was set to become the biggest star yet to play in Nepal’s largest franchise competition, only for coronavirus to intervene.

The Jamaican great announced in January he had signed for Pokhara Rhinos for the fourth season of the Twenty20 competition in Kathmandu.

However, the tournament was postponed shortly before its scheduled March 14 start date because of the situation surrounding Covid-19.

With sport stalled across the globe now, it is unclear when the competition will be played.

Aamir Akhtar, the league’s managing director, said consideration will be paid to Gayle’s involvement when it is possible to return to playing.

“It all depends what schedule we plan and if Chris Gayle would be available,” Akhtar said.

“Of course the availability dates for Chris Gayle and other foreign players shall be considered, and shall be put on priority.

“We would love to have him in EPL, if everything works out. He has a huge fan following in Nepal.”

Gayle was heading an impressive list of overseas players bound for the competition, with the likes of Mohammed Shahzad, Paul Stirling , Kevin O’Brien, Upul Tharanga and  Corey Anderson all due to feature.

Akhtar says the league will not commit to any new dates while the “whole world is battling for something precious in life”.

But he is hopefully many of the foreign players will be able to feature when the league does return.

“The star players who have committed to play in EPL are there more for the love of cricket in Nepal,” Akhtar said.

“The entire environment is friendly for them. They enjoy a huge fan base, and decent media attention.

"Nevertheless all the star players are aware of the potential of Nepali cricket.

“Events like EPL are a responsible activity so we mustn't rush into announcing new possible dates at the moment.”

Akhtar said he wants the competition to be considered the leading franchise event outside of the Test-playing nations.

“EPL has many challenges, and it would be immature to even think we could compete with IPL, CPL, Big Bash and PSL,” he said. “The IPL serves as a big institution for world cricket.

“At this moment, we would like to be placed as the biggest franchise league among the associate nations.

“The fan base, media coverage and our local talent are far above many associate nations.”