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Gayle selection bolsters Windies

With direct qualification to World Cup 2019 on the line, Holder’s men run into determined Ireland.
Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle's return to the Windies’ One-Day International squad for the first time since the 2015 Cricket World Cup has been the big talking point ahead of the five-match series against England.

Gayle is expected to make his first appearance against Ireland on Wednesday.

Along with Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Jerome Taylor also feature in the 15-man squad, which arrived in Northern Ireland on Monday.

Samuels last turned out for the Windies in October 2016, but was dropped for the tri-series against Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe the following month. Gayle played in the one-off T20 International against India in July, but his last ODI was during the 2015 World Cup. Taylor's last ODI was in July 2016.

"The panel welcomes back Chris Gayle and Marlon Samuels, who will both add value to our batting and help with the nurturing of the young batsmen in the team," said Courtney Browne, the chairman of selectors.

The selectors are hoping the combined experience of the two - Samuels is 36 and Gayle turns 38 next week - can help the West Indies qualify for the next ICC Cricket World Cup in England.

Windies will need to beat Ireland and then win four of the five ODIs against England otherwise it will find itself in the qualifying tournament next March, along with Ireland, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe. Only two qualifiers will join the top eight in the rankings at the end of this month at the 2019 event in England.

Gayle made it clear that he wanted to play in the World Cup. "The fans were happy to see me back on the field representing West Indies," he said. "Hopefully, things can get better. Hopefully I can play a few more games. I definitely want to play the 2019 World Cup.

"Things are beginning to open up a little more now between players and the board. It's looking good, and we've to try and build from this to get the best players out on the field."

Six players from the Windies Test squad are staying back for the limited-overs leg - which also includes a one-off T20I against England on Saturday with Roston Chase the only player dropped from the squad that lost 3-1 to India in the home ODIs in July.

This also marks a crucial period for Irish cricket. Former Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford has signed a three-year deal with Ireland, which will begin when outgoing coach John Bracewell’s two-year contract expires at the end of the year.

With Ireland likely to face Windies in the ICC Cricket World Cup qualifiers, the match on Wednesday could be a dress rehearsal for what's to come.

Ireland: William Porterfield (capt), John Anderson, Andy Balbirnie, Peter Chase, George Dockrell, Ed Joyce, Jacob Mulder, Tim Murtagh, Kevin O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Boyd Rankin, Simi Singh, Paul Stirling, Gary Wilson (wk).

Windies: Sunil Ambris, Devendra Bishoo, Miguel Cummins, Chris Gayle, Jason Holder (capt), Kyle Hope, Shai Hope (wk), Alzarri Joseph, Evin Lewis, Jason Mohammed, Ashley Nurse, Rovman Powell, Marlon Samuels, Jerome Taylor, Kesrick Williams.

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