Sri Lanka Cricket's tour of West Indies 2021
Chris Gayle has set his sights on a third Twenty20 World title with West Indies, as he prepares to return to international cricket after an absence of two years ahead of their T20 series against Sri Lanka starting on Thursday.
Former captain Gayle played the last of his 58 T20 internationals against England in March 2019.
The 41-year-old self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ is focused on the "bigger picture" having been part of the World Twenty20-winning sides in both 2012 and 2016.
The Windies will attempt to defend their title in India in October and November later this year.
"I want to start off by winning this series, but the bigger picture is actually to get three T20 titles under my belt," Gayle told a press conference.
"That's actually the goal I'm setting in my head -- winning the T20 World Cup.”
Gayle has made 1,627 T20I runs with a highest score of 117 at an average of over 32.
His record tally of 22 centuries in all T20 cricket is 14 more than anyone else -- the Australian trio of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Michael Klinger have all struck eight.
Gayle was initially left on the sidelines by Kings XI Punjab during last year's Indian Premier League, but showed the team what they had been missing when he was selected midway through the tournament. He completed a string of high scores towards the end of that tournament.
Having spent the vast majority of his career as an opener, he impressed in the IPL batting at number three, averaging 43.88 from nine innings.
He is one of four openers in the current West Indies squad, but said he is happy to be used lower down the order if needed.
"It seems like I'm the number three specialist now," he said. "It's not a problem. I'm good at playing spin, I'm as good at playing fast bowlers as anyone as I'm an opener.
"But with West Indies cricket, whatever role they want me to play, I'm willing to play that particular role..." he said.
"If it's opening, I'm ready, number three, number five -- I'm pretty much flexible. I will still be the best number five in the world, best number three in the world." Gayle concluded.
The series will also mark the return of Fidel Edwards to the West Indies squad.
Edwards' last international appearance was a Test in Bangladesh in 2012.
The 39-year-old Edwards, meanwhile, picked up nine wickets in as many games at an economy of 7.66 in CPL 2020, where the pitches were mostly spin-friendly.
Sri Lanka's multi-format tour of West Indies, comprising three T20Is, three ODIs and two Tests, will start on Thursday, with all fixtures to be played behind closed doors in Antigua, in a bio-secure environment.
Sri Lanka will be the first team to travel to the Caribbean for a men's tour since Ireland in January 2020.
The ODIs form part of the World Cup Super League, while the Tests are part of the World Test Championship, though neither side can qualify for the final.
Former skipper Angelo Mathews will be the team's stand-in captain for the three-match Twenty20 series after Sri Lanka's appointed skipper for this format Dasun Shanaka was left back in Sri Lanka, stranded due to a visa issue.
Mathews has previously led Sri Lanka in 34 Tests, 106 ODIs and 13 T20Is.
Shanaka was named Sri Lanka's new Twenty20 captain last week but the 29-year-old could not board the flight that left with his team mates on Monday after failing to secure a new transit visa to the United States. It is hoped that he will make the ODI leg of the tour at least, which starts on March 9.
This news is the latest setback for Sri Lanka, who also lost the services of Lahiru Kumara for this tour after testing positive for Covid-19 in the days before departure for the West Indies.