KINGSTON  - The West Indies captain Darren Sammy is confident the return of Chris Gayle will be the top-order boost his side needs to post winning totals in the Test series against New Zealand. Gayle is set to play his first Test since December 2010 when the two teams walk out in Antigua on Wednesday, and his absence over the past 18 months has left an enormous hole at the top of the order.

During the standoff between Gayle and the WICB, the West Indies Test side used five different opening batsmen and between them they managed only three half-century partnerships in 31 innings. This year the results have been even worse: during the series against Australia and England the West Indies opening partnerships averaged 14.45. Gayle has played only one first-class match since his last Test but he showed no signs of rustiness against the red ball, crunching 165 from 155 balls for Jamaica against the Windward Islands in February.