Somerset have signed Chris Gayle precisely to help turn them from perennial runners-up to trophy winners this summer.
The club acted quickly to recruit the 32-year-old former West Indies captain as their second overseas player for the Friends Lift t20 competition after Kieron Pollard pulled out of a deal to return to Taunton because of international commitments.
Gayle has not played for his country since last year’s World Cup following a row with the West Indies Cricket Board.
Now he is set to join a potentially explosive Somerset batting line-up also including Marcus Trescothick, Roelof van der Merwe, Craig Kieswetter, Jos Buttler and Peter Trego as the club seek their first silverware since 2005.
Director of cricket Brian Rose said: “We were bitterly disappointed that Kieron could not return to us this summer because he has done so well for us in the past and is hugely popular with our supporters.
“But we had an immediate opportunity to sign Chris and I can think of no better player to replace Kieron. He is a fantastic acquisition for our club because in my view he would get into any World T20 team.”
Gayle has most recently been playing for Sydney Thunder in Australia’s Big Bash. Apart from being one of the most destructive hitters in the game, he will boost Somerset’s bowling options with his off-spin.
Rose added: “Our supporters love watching exciting cricket so Chris will fit in wonderfully well at Taunton.”
Somerset officials got first hand experience of Gayle’s hitting power when he smashed 86 off 46 balls for Royal Challengers Bangalore against the county in the Champions League T20 tournament in India last autumn.
Now they are hoping he can help lift a trophy after the bitter disappointment of five runners-up finishes in the past two seasons.