Raina admits to relief over Gayle's absence

Gayle has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with the West Indies board and will miss the opening Twenty20 matches on India's tour there.

PORT OF SPAIN // The India captain Suresh Raina said he was relieved that Chris Gayle would miss the opening matches of his side's tour of the Caribbean.

Gayle has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with the West Indies Cricket Board, which has summoned him to a meeting to discuss comments he made during a highly publicised radio interview last month.

"To be honest yes I'm a bit relieved at the moment," said Raina on the eve of the Twenty20 match, which opens the six-week tour of the Caribbean.

Gayle was the leading scorer with 608 runs in the recent Indian Premier League, where he helped Royal Challengers Bangalore reach the Final, where they were beaten by Chennai Super Kings.

The issue of Gayle's place in the team has overshadowed West Indies preparations for the series.

Their coach Ottis Gibson, whose approach has been the source of dissatisfaction for Gayle, as well as fellow senior batsmen Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, has defended himself.

"There is a lot being said," said Gibson. "I have left the board to deal with it, and have tried to focus on cricket. I have been doing that since the Gayle issue started."

Gibson felt that Gayle would still take part in the series, once he attends the meeting with the WICB, and all sides have a chance to air their grievances.

West Indies captain Darren Sammy also felt that too much was being made of the absence of Gayle, and said his side had shown that they can be competitive without him.

"It's an opportunity for all the other guys to perform," he said. "We won a Twenty20 and a Test match against Pakistan. We have not done it since 2009, and didn't win for 17 Tests.

"We have managed to draw the series at home against a higher-ranked team. The guys represented West Indies proudly and played their best. We are looking again to play a team and do well."

Published: June 4, 2011 04:00 AM