CHRIS GAYLE'S unofficial, but undisguised, two- match suspension by the West Indies selectors was ended yesterday when he was chosen in the West Indies squad of 14 for the third Cable and Wireless Test against Australia, starting at Kensington Oval on Thursday.
Gayle, omitted after he chose to play in an international double-wicket tournament in St.Lucia rather than for Jamaica in the Carib Beer Series final against Barbados last month, takes the place of fellow Jamaican left-hander Wavell Hinds.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul, whose 69-ball 100 in the first Test was the third fastest on record, and established wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs return after injuries which put them out of the second Test as does fast bowler Jermaine Lawson who was eliminated by chicken pox.
All are certain to be in the starting eleven aiming to prevent Australia extending their lead in the series to 3-0.
With 112 Tests between them, the first two boost the experience that was so lacking in the second Test in Port-of-Spain.
Lawson adds dash to bowling that was then limited to three frontliners and was unspired and unspiring.
The other two omitted are Pedro Collins, whose solitary wicket in the first two Tests with left-arm bowling that has lost pace and swing cost 263 runs, and all-rounder David Bernard, who had a forgettable debut Test in Port-of-Spain.
Gayle's case has created controversy, confusion and conjecture.
The West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) declared him eligible for selection after communication with Jamaican cricket officials and Gayle himself. Yet he was pointedly excluded from the first two Tests.
New captain Brian Lara told the media at the time that "to my knowledge, it had nothing to do with any double-wicket tournament or anything like that" but it required more than just a pinch of salt to swallow that one.
Gayle has had no cricket in the interim on which to judge his form, although he plays for the University of the West Indies Vice-Chancellor's XI against the Australians in the three-day match at Cave Hill, starting today. His steady, if bland, off-spin gives Lara another bowling option.
His original exclusion split up a successful opening partnership with Hinds that averaged 46.86 in 22 innings and they remain apart.
Only the prolific Australians Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden (69.34 in 32 innings) and England's Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick (50.86 in 23) have better records among contemporary pairs with more than 1,000 runs.
Devon Smith, the dashing 21-year-old left-hander, is preferred to Hinds in spite of his dismissal for 0 in both innings in the Port-of-Spain Test, his second.
But there is a strong case for moving in-form Daren Ganga, scorer of successive hundreds in the first two Tests, from No.3 back up to opening where he was in 12 of his 19 Tests and reinstating Ramnaresh Sarwan to his favoured No.3 spot.
It is the bowling that conceded totals of 489, 147 for one 576 for four declared and 238 for three declared in the two defeats to date, rather than the batting, that needs significant revision.
As is generally the case at Kensington, all four fast bowlers named (Lawson, Merv Dillon, Vasbert Drakes and Tino Best) are
likely to play with support from the occasional off-spin of batsmen Gayle and Marlon Samuels Dillon is the only one in the team with over 100 Test wickets but his classification as fast bowler has seriously breached the Trade Descriptions Act in the first two Tests.
He has shown little inclination to lead the attack, as he should, and is lucky to be retained above others more willing to do the
job. He must be told, if he does not know already, that he is now in Last Chance Saloon.