Far from the crisis that has gripped West Indies cricket after the team's pullout from the Indian tour, Chris Gayle is set to storm South Africa's Ram Slam T20 tournament. The powerful left-handed opening batsman, who played the last of his 103 Tests against Bangladesh in September this year and featured in 258 ODIs, has been an integral part of T20 leagues around the world for the last six years.
Now, Gayle, 35, will be seen in action for the Highveld Lions when they clash against the Sunfoil Dolphins at Bidvest Wanderers on Sunday. One of the greatest batsmen to have emerged from the West Indies in modern times, Gayle has missed out on international action after failing to recover from a lower-back injury. He was not available for the team's controversial tour of India where the players, led by captain Dwayne Bravo pulled out over pay disputes.
The aggressive Gayle, who has played 185 T20 matches amassing a staggering 6551 runs at an average of 41.72, should help the Lions roar. Highveld Lions, who managed only one win last season, will be delighted to have of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket. In the IPL, Gayle has shown his value for the Royal Challengers Bangalore and when he clobbered a breathtaking 175 against Pune Warriors.
Coach Geoffrey Toyana believes Gayle could help the Lions turn the tide: "He's a match-winner - we've seen him in the IPL and playing for the West Indies. If he gets in and gets going we are going to have some fun.
"If he can come through for us then he can give us the sort of starts that we're looking for because in this format it's all about how you start and we didn't start well last year," Toyana said.
Led by Neil McKenzie, who is expected to bat at number three, Gayle and Alviro Petersen's opening combination should give the Lions a lot of hope.
The match on Sunday could be extra spicy with Dolphins certain to play their latest signing, Dwayne Bravo, the man believed to have orchestrated the whole drama in India.
This will be the first time since the Dharamsala ODI that Bravo will be seen in action and it remains to be seen how the pressure and the criticism of the last few weeks, including some stinging remarks from a teammate and harsh words from former players, have affected his game.