'Hope the key man for WI again'
Sidelined West Indies batsman Chris Gayle believes that a win for the regional team in the third and deciding Test against England at Lord's will depend a lot on the continued good form of Barbadian Shai Hope.
The 23-year-old who will be playing in his 13th Test has been a revelation during the series thus far, scoring 284 runs at an average of 94.66. His aggregate includes back-to-back tons of 147 and 118 not out in the second Test at Headingley.
"It's been really great to see a youngster like Shai blossoming so fast,'' said the 37-year-old Gayle, who has expressed an interest in representing the West Indies at least one more in Tests before he retires from international cricket.
''I have to congratulate him. To be able to score back-to-back centuries is fantastic. It is now just for him to continue and fill his boots as he is in good form.''
Barbadian Hope, who now has a modest Test average of 29.81, is again set to play a lead role in the West Indies batting, along with fellow Barbadian, opener Kraigg Brathwaite, and Jamaican middle-order batsman, Jermaine Blackwood.
Brathwaite, the most experienced batsman in the team with 39 Tests at an average of 37.44, has amassed 269 runs in the series at average of 67.25 with one century.
The 24-year-old Blackwood, with 24 Tests to his name, is averaging 60.33 in the series with a top score of 79 not out.
"'Hope is doing well, but he cannot do it alone,'' said Gayle. "'Kraigg Brathwaite has been around for quite some time, and it is good to see him come good in the last Test. The same could also be said of Blackwood."
Third-ranked England won the first Test by an innings and 209 runs with the West Indies, ranked number eight, taking the second by five wickets. Action in the third Test starts at 5 a.m. (Ja time) today.