Chris Gayle still a force in the Windies dressing room, says Russell

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Chris Gayle (File photo)

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand, Sunday February 22, 2015, CMC – Talisman Chris Gayle maybe finding runs hard to come by but teammate Andre Russell says just his presence in the squad is having a great impact on team morale.

The left-handed opener has been enduring a dismal run, with just 43 runs from four innings – including three single digit scores – since arriving at the ICC Cricket World Cup.

His latest failure came on Saturday against Pakistan when he scratched around for 14 deliveries over four before top-edging a swing at seamer Mohammed Irfan to long leg to fall in the fifth over.

“From the warm-up games Chris has been struggling and we’re still scoring 300 runs and he’s not giving us those big performances, even Marlon Samuels who is one of our main batters as well,” Russell pointed out.

“So, I just think when these guys peak at the right time, West Indies has the ability to score over 350. They have been good in the dressing room … the way they keep motivating the team and the team spirit is very good.

“Chris is not moody. Chris is just an amazing guy that you share the changing room with. Even now he’s not scoring and he’s not miserable, he’s not grumpy. He’s happy, he’s laughing, and he’s cheering everyone on the field, and that’s what we want from a big guy like him, so it’s very good.”

Gayle also struggled in the five-match one-day series against South Africa last month, making just 71 runs from five outings, and has now gone 20 months without a hundred with just a single half-century in the interim.

In Gayle’s absence, however, Russell has been one of the players to step up, and his scintillating 13-ball, unbeaten 42 helped lift West Indies to a 150-run crushing of Pakistan at Hagley Oval on Saturday.

He said the victory had left a buzz in the dressing room, especially following the team’s shock four-wicket defeat to minnows Ireland last week.

“[The mood] is very good in the dressing room. We needed this win after that defeat against Ireland,” said Russell, who grabbed the Man-of-the-Match award for an all-round performance which included a three-wicket haul.

“Everyone is laughing and we’re happy with the way we performed. It’s just always a fun dressing room, and I think from the last game things didn’t go well for us, and we just turned up today and wanted to show the world that we are not just a pushover.

“We are always a good team and we can fight. It happened today, so it was a very good performance.”

Defending 310, West Indies started brightly when fast bowler Jerome Taylor wiped out the top order to leave Pakistan four wickets down with just one run on the board, in the fourth over.

Russell followed up with his medium pace to help hurt Pakistan and seal the victory but was quick to downplay his own performance.

“It is very big to contribute to the team and win the Man-of-the-Match award, but at the end of the day, the other contributions from the other guys [were important],” the Jamaican said.

“We didn’t get the start that we wanted, but the guys in the middle, they kept it together and they set the innings perfectly for me to come and do my thing. It just goes to show that we’re a good team and playing as a team you’re always going to get the job done once everyone contributes.”