Durban – Three days can be a long time in cricket. Following their encouraging Twenty20 win over the Titans last Sunday, the Dolphins have been shaken by the news that their Jamaican powerhouse import, Chris Gayle, will no longer be playing for them in the RamSlam Challenge.
It’s the second time in three seasons that a hamstring injury has laid the 34-year-old low shortly before joining up with the Dolphins.
In 2011/12, the dynamic left-hand batsman tore a hamstring playing in the Bangladesh Premier League; this time he picked up an injury in November last year, playing for the West Indies in a one-day international against India. He was expected to be fit to play in two weeks, but his progress has been too slow.
The Dolphins are desperate to get their hands on some silverware this summer, and it was hoped that Gayle would lead their campaign. With Shahid “Boom Boom” Afridi also pulling out of the competition for family reasons, the double blow is a major disappointment for South African cricket fans as well as the tournament’s sponsors.
“I’m devastated not to be able to join up with the Dolphins this year,” Gayle commented on Wednesday from Australia where he is receiving treatment. “It’s the second time I have been unable to play for them because of injury so it’s extremely frustrating.
“I put everything into my rehab programme and really hoped I’d be given the all-clear. I know how much planning had been done by Jesse Chellan and Lance Klusener which makes this even more disappointing. I wish the guys all the best with their campaign and hopefully it’s third time lucky should I have the opportunity to play for the Dolphins in the future.”
Dolphins chief executive Jesse Chellan said: “We received confirmation from Chris’s agent today that his rehab and recovery has not progressed as well as they had hoped. Estimates are that he will only return to full fitness by early February. It’s a real pity for all concerned. Our players and fans alike were really looking forward to seeing this global star in action in Durban. But this is part and parcel of international sport. We wish Chris a speedy recovery and every success in the year ahead.”
Coach Lance Klusener expressed his disappointment, but said: “We have confidence in the current squad and hope to achieve our goals in the competition.”
The Dolphins have chosen the same squad that defeated the Titans for their match against the Knights in Kimberley tomorrow evening.