By Ravi Madholall in Toronto
Former West Indies successful T20 skipper Darren Sammy and pugnacious opener Chris Gayle are promising great entertainment on Thursday at the Maple Leaf facility, King City as the inaugural Global T20 Canada tournament bowls off.
Sammy will be leading Toronto Nationals against Vancouver Knights, the team Gayle will be captaining from 16:00 hrs.
On Wednesday, both West Indians spoke enthusiastically of making a big impression and more importantly lifting the trophy.
At the specially-held Press Conference at Marriot Hotel in Toronto, the St. Lucian Sammy stated that his team is talented enough to defeat all its opponents while the left-handed Gayle also echoing similar sentiments of doing well.
“I think it will be a great tournament from Thursday; we have a good team especially with the presence of Australian Steven Smith and I [am] very optimistic of winning our first match against Vancouver Knights,” Sammy related.
The 34-year-old Sammy, who featured in 38 tests for the Caribbean side, mentioned that the six teams participating are equally competitive and he expects great challenge but is also keen to provide rich entertainment with his ‘willow’ for the locals’ fans.
“Looking at the magnitude of the tournament where you will have a lot of star players on show, you want to give your best and me and my good friend Gayle will provide entertainment for the fans in Canada; we are both excited to be a part of this tournament as well,” Sammy, who led West Indies to two International Cricket Council T20 titles, disclosed.
The other four Franchise sides taking part are: Montreal Tigers, Edmonton Knights, Winnipeg Hawks and Cricket West Indies “B”.
Gayle was also determined that his side will defeat Sammy’s combination in their first outing. He expressed confidence that the balanced team is capable of bowling out oppositions cheaply or his batsmen can produce triumphant totals.
“I think we have a great set of players to do well in Toronto; obviously every team wants to win but we have players with experience and ability and that certainly can take us through. I am definitely excited to be here and I know this tournament will definitely see Canada’s cricket continues to grow,” the ex-West Indies captain declared.
Quizzed on his initial thoughts having been invited to play in this tournament and to represent Vancouver Knights, the Jamaican responded emphatically by saying it is huge.
“I have been playing cricket around the world and T20 cricket is very thrilling so I don’t think excitement will be short here in Canada; I am anxious to go out there and play and help my team wins the first competition,” Gayle revealed.
On Friday when the action resumes at the same time, Montreal Tigers will confront Winnipeg Hawks. Two matches are slated for Saturday from 11:00hrs, Toronto Nationals will do battle with Edmonton Royals and at 16:00hrs, Montreal Tigers lock horns with Cricket West Indies “B”. The playoff stage is set to commence on July 12 with the championship game billed for July 15 at the same facility.