Chris Gayle’s absence is background noise for realist Jason Holder

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Jason Holder has called for a focus on the present as West Indies cricket grapples with Chris Gayle’s availability for next year’s World Cup, and has urged the younger players in the squad to make full use of their opportunities in India.
“What I say is, Gayle is not here,” Holder said ahead of the second ODI. “We’ve got a pretty young core group of players. Regardless of what happens after this tour, that is too far and beyond at the present time. I’m just focusing on what we have to do and that is to play cricket here in India with the squad that we have selected. We’ve got young Chandrapaul Hemraj and obviously Kieran Powell at the top of the order. Hopefully these guys can get us off to a really good start. “
Ambati Rayudu returned to international cricket after more than two years during last month’s Asia Cup but the batsman, who has been publicly backed by the management, doesn’t think that he was ever out of the race for a spot in the team.
“I don’t think No. 4 is new to me because it’s a position I’ve played a lot in and there’s nothing new they’ve asked me to do. They’ve asked me to go out and play my game. Even before the IPL, it’s not that I wasn’t in contention. It was just I had a few injuries and wasn’t fit.
“IPL is a good platform to come back strongly, specially fitness, and I think I’ve done that. And I had to do. In terms of fitness, I’d been working on it, not only now but right from my injury so the yo-yo test didn’t have any bearing on how I was preparing. I’m happy that I’ve cleared the test. [Lately] I’ve been going to the NCA for a week and then coming back, so there have always been these small pockets [where I’ve worked on fitness].”
During the first ODI, Gayle was at the inaugural Afghanistan Premier League, where he won the title with Balkh Legends shortly after retiring from List A cricket for Jamaica with a century. At the time, Holder had said he would welcome Gayle into the team at the World Cup and that the veteran would not have played in the qualifiers if he did not have West Indies’ best interests in mind.
But Holder’s appeal to the youngsters to focus on their game rather than their place in the team adds weight to the words of head coach Stuart Law, who told ESPNcricinfo that senior players like Gayle and Andre Russell have been told that World Cup selection will come down to performances, and suggested that extra room for them in terms of criteria is not yet a given.
“Dre Russ and Chris – Chris has given us his programme for the next three months. I think he and Russ have been told that it’ll now be down to performance, which is what selection should be based on. You’re talking about two special cricketers there though, “ Law said, “so whether or not they get extra room to move remains to be seen. But for me, you need players with good experience leading into a World Cup, guiding the youngsters how to play. We’re lucky to have Marlon Samuels here. And his job on this tour is to show these kids how to go about a game.
“Who knows what the future holds. But yes, leading into the World Cup, this tour and the Bangladesh tour – you’ve got to be pretty settled and you go into the England series with the full ODI squad. We’ll still be thinking about different positions and how we go. It’s an opportunity for some to keep scoring runs and taking wickets – can’t ignore it.