Gayle is set to join Ram Slam T20 Challenge along with Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pollard, Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Craig Kieswetter as the overseas players for the event. Each South African franchise managed to add only one overseas player to the squad although there was speculation they would be more.
Kumar Sangakkara was in talks to join Lions but had to withdraw to join Sri Lanka’s ODI team for their sudden trip to India and Kevin Pietersen, was rumoured to be considering to appear in the twenty-over competition, but does not seem to have been snapped up.
For the third time in four seasons, Chris Gayle has been linked to South Africa’s domestic T20 competition but this time he may play in the event. Gayle signed for the Dolphins for 2011-12 and 2013-14, but injury kept him out of the event. This time, he will be playing for Lions and will be one of six international signings for a competition that is searching for a higher-profile.
Tournament director Graeme Smith, was pleased to see the level of interest in the South African event. “In my discussions with all the superstars, it has been satisfying to note their eagerness to play in here, as they regard South Africa as one of the best cricket leagues in the world,” Smith said.
Lions were aware of Gayle’s pulling out from Dolphins twice and have been careful over getting confirmation from Gayle over his availability for them. “It looks very promising that Gayle will play for us. We have sent him the contract and we hope to finalise things in the next 24 hours,” Greg Fredericks, CEO of Lions, told. “We know that if he is firing on all cylinders, he could be a game-changer. We were obviously a bit concerned about what happened last time with the injuries and we made sure to check that he is fit and ready to play, and he is,” Fredericks said.
Gayle will be available for the entire competition, like his West Indies team-mates, except Bravo, who will be missing the first match as West Indies have no fixtures during the competition, which runs from November 2 to December 12 but their next international assignment is in South Africa – a three-Test, three-T20 and five-ODI tour which starts on December 17.
However, a cloud continues to hang over West Indies’ future because of the ongoing dispute between the players, the board and the players’ association over payment structures. Earlier this month, West Indies pulled out of their India tour and the falling-out has yet to be resolved.
Ram Slam’s overseas signings for 2014-15:
Kieron Pollard – Cape Cobras
Dwayne Bravo – Dolphins
Andre Russell – Knights
Chris Gayle – Lions
Darren Sammy – Titans
Craig Kieswetter – Warriors