Reprinted from Jamaica Observer
Jamaica Tallawahs Captain Christopher Gayle says he is focused on continuing his outstanding form in the Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) Twenty20 (T20) tournament.
The Tallawahs are preparing for a series of home games at Sabina Park, starting with tomorrow’s encounter against Guyana Amazon Warriors.
Yesterday afternoon, the Tallawahs had an optional practice at Sabina Park.
“I’ll try to keep the some momentum going and do what’s working for me and deliver for the team and give the team that sort of start,” the opening batsman told the Jamaica Observer on Tuesday.
Gayle started his 2016 CPL campaign with 51 off 36 balls in a five-run win over St Kitts & Nevis Patriots at Warner Park on July 2.
Two days later he notched his 18th T20 century while smashing 108 not out of 54 balls in the seven-wicket defeat of reigning champions Trinbago Knight Riders at Queen’s Park Oval.
He was harshly given out leg before wicket for a first-ball duck in the seven-wicket loss to Guyana Amazon Warriors on July 7.
But the big left-hander reclaimed his destructive form by blasting an unbeaten 47 from 20 balls in the rain-abandoned fixture against Barbados Tridents at Kensington Oval on Monday.
Gayle, who said he is aiming for at least three wins from the Tallawahs’ four games at Sabina Park, said it is important not to burden himself too much in front of his home fans.
“I’m happy with the start that I’ve had, and in home conditions sometimes there is more pressure because you tend to want to do extra well. I don’t want to pile on too much pressure,” the Jamaican explained.
South African fast bowling great Dale Steyn, another of the star players representing the Tallawahs, has not had the smoothest of starts with the franchise.
He was economical in taking 1-21 off four overs against the Patriots, but struggled for accuracy against the Knight Riders and the Amazon Warriors when rainy conditions and night dew made the ball slippery.
“The first one in St Kitts was a good one and we didn’t have any weather interference. When we got to Trinidad it was wet because it rained all day and it’s very difficult to handle those conditions.
“In Guyana we bowled second and the dew came (into play) and it was very, very tough. You don’t find that the conditions are in your favour once the format gets shortened where you bowl only four overs, so the odds are already stacked against you in terms of economy rate and opportunity to take wickets,” the 33-year-old explained.
Steyn, who said he has enjoyed playing for the Jamaica franchise, is confident he will bounce back.
“All the teams have to go into that kind of stuff [wet conditions], so that’s fine, it’s not the end of the world. Hopefully the weather is good here [in Jamaica] and we have four good games over the next days.
“I just have to contribute to the team and help to win cricket games. I just came off a little stint with Glamorgan [in the T20 Blast tournament]. The ball is coming out nicely, it’s just about working out the pitches and the conditions,” he told the Observer.
Unlike the Tallawahs skipper, head coach Paul Nixon said he will not be satisfied with anything less than a perfect record at home. He insisted that Sabina Park must be a fortress for the Tallawahs.
“We are targeting every game. We have to do our homework and make sure our plan is right. We know Sabina Park well, and friends and family will be there in support. It’s a fortress we want to create. I’d be disappointed at losing any single game of cricket and we know when we are playing well somebody’s got to play exceptionally well to beat us,” Nixon said.