SECOND vice-president of the Jamaica Cricket Association (JCA), Dr Donovan Bennett said the inclusion of powerful left-hander Christopher Gayle will "boost" the Jamaica squad ahead of today's final preliminary-round Caribbean Twenty20 (CT20) clash against the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC) at the Beausejour Stadium in St Lucia.
Gayle, who is returning from a miserable spell in the Australian Big Bash T20 League, replaces injured middle-order batsman Andre McCarthy in a side that has so far found runs hard to come by.
"We've been struggling to make runs, so it will definitely be a boost to us," Bennett told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
The opener has scored 4,475 runs, including eight centuries and 32 half-tons, at a rapid strike rate of 152.10 and a remarkable average of 42.21 in 125 T20 outings.
While noting that McCarthy's injury was unfortunate, Bennett declared that Gayle's class and experience would favour the Jamaicans as they hunt a win needed to ensure a play-off spot for the final.
"We are saddened by the fact that McCarthy is injured and will take no further part... (Though) I think from a cricketing point of view it will be beneficial to us to have Gayle. It is obvious that having a Gayle in the side is a big plus for Jamaica," he added.
When asked about the nature of McCarthy's ailment, Bennett said he was unsure, but a source close to the JCA said the former youth player has a "reported ankle injury".
In a statement, the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) confirmed that its T20 technical committee "approved the replacement".
Yesterday, the JCA issued a release of its own, stating Gayle was "en route to St Lucia" and was expected to join his teammates at approximately 7:30 pm yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Observer understands that wrist-spinner Odean Brown has a concern with his left knee, but reports are it is not considered to be serious.
The Tamar Lambert-led Jamaicans currently lie in second place behind title-holders Trinidad & Tobago, but have thus far failed to post a score of 150 or beyond — a total widely considered to be the par in the T20 format, and were even dismissed for an abysmal 72 in an earlier defeat against Barbados.
The top team after the preliminary phase will automatically progress to the final, while the second- and third-placed teams will meet to determine the other finalists.
The T&T outfit has already secured a final spot with an unassailable 21 points from six matches.
Jamaica, last season's finalists, have 13 points from five matches, while Barbados, Windward Islands and Guyana are all locked on eight points.
The CCC and Leeward Islands are at the foot of the table with four points a-piece.
Jamaica squad — Tamar Lambert (capt), Christopher Gayle, John Campbell, Danza Hyatt, Andre Russell, David Bernard, Yannick Elliott, Aldaine Thomas, Krishmar Santokie, Nikita Miller, Sheldon Cotterell, Nkrumah Bonner, Odean Brown, Jamie Merchant.