West Indies’ skipper Chris Gayle sey to play for Somerset at Essex tonight

Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle - Credit: AP

Essex have made an inauspicious start to their Natwest T20Blast campaign, winning just one of their opening four fixtures.

Their task will not get any easier at a sold-out County Ground, in Chelmsford tonight, cricket superstar and West Indies skipper Chris Gayle making his debut for visitors Somerset.

Paul Grayson’s side lost by 17 runs at Hampshire, by 44 runs at home to Surrey and last Sunday, by 34 runs, against a Michael Clinger-inspired Gloucestershire at Bristol.

The sight of Gayle, who holds the record for the most centuries scored in T20 cricket, is not normally a welcome one for opposition bowlers but Grayson’s men, who defeated Glamorgan by five wickets in Wales last Friday, have some plans in place for the giant Jamaican.

“Somerset will always be a decent one-day side but they didn’t play quite so well last year,” said Grayson.

“They lost their first game against Sussex but of course, they have Chris Gayle, who is one of the best players in world cricket, in their side.

“He is a great opponent to play against and a great one for one of our players to get out.

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“He is a brilliant player but we have some match-winners in our side and it should prove to be a great occasion at a sold-out Chelmsford.

“At the moment, he is up there with AB De Villiers as the best batsman in the world and I think T20 in this country needed a boost, so it’s brilliant for English cricket.”

The likes of Shaun Tait, Ryan ten Doeschate and Jesse Ryder have played against Gayle in the IPL and Grayson added: “We have got a few plans in place.

“We have got all our plans in place to play him and hopefully they will come to fruition on Friday.

“But Somerset have some other great players too and we know what a dangerous player Marcus Trescothick is.”

Essex’s latest setback came against Gloucester, for whom the aforementioned Klinger scored 126 not out, but it could have been so much different.

“We dropped him (Klinger) on 46 and 48 and had we take one of those opportunities we feel they may 171/175 (Gloucester eventually reached 199 for four),” Grayson added.

“It’s been a tough start for us, with so many players unavailable and so many games are fine margin affairs.

“We paid the price against Gloucestershire.”

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