Gayle backs Renegades

SYDNEY – With the Sydney Thunder’s miserable campaign finally over, West Indies opener Chris Gayle has thrown his support behind the Melbourne Renegades as the KFC T20 Big Bash League gears up for a cracking finals series.

The Thunder lost their 13th straight match by 13 runs against the Melbourne Stars at the MCG on Tuesday, marking the end of a horror season for the men from ANZ Stadium.

But Gayle will keep a close eye on the finals and hopes the Renegades go all the way for the sake of his injured mate Marlon Samuels.

“I chose the Renegades because they had a West Indian playing for them and they’re going well, but unfortunately he won’t take any further part in the tournament,” Gayle said.

“Hopefully they can get across the line.

“It’s going to be tough for them, even losing Finchy (Aaron Finch) as well.”

Samuels was struck in the face by a Lasith Malinga thunderbolt on Sunday and will not return home to Jamaica for a month after doctors ordered the all-rounder stay as still as possible to avoid permanent damage to his vision.

Gayle said Samuels would almost certainly miss the West Indies’ one-day series Australia next month.

“I was with him last night. He’s getting better,” he said.

“A few days of recuperating and he might get himself sorted. The good news is there’s no fracture so I’m really happy with that.”

Gayle finally clicked into gear in the final round, cracking 65 from 43 balls against the Stars – the fastest half-century of the summer.

But his team-mates couldn’t finish the job as the Thunder were bowled out 14 runs short of the target.

“We desperately wanted to win one. We wanted to win this game and make sure we caused an upset for the Stars,” Gayle said.

“It didn’t happen but we came very, very close and that’s what hurt us the most.”

Gayle has enjoyed his BBL season despite his lean start to the tournament.

“After the IPL the Big Bash is second around the world,” he said.

“The standard is very high even though you don’t get a lot of the top Australian players playing in the Big Bash. The overseas guys coming in played a part and boosted the Big Bash.

“The standard has been really, really high and the passion is always greater in Australia.”

The 33-year-old is eager to return home to Jamaica after spending three months abroad and is unsure whether he’ll rejoin the Thunder camp next season.

“I’m looking to head back. I haven’t been home for maybe three months now. I came straight from Bangladesh to here,” Gayle said.

“A couple of days at home you can refresh and come back here to Australia looking forward to five ODIs and hopefully we can do well as a team.”

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