Wednesday, 25 May 2016, 07:05pm
Matthew Maynard backs Chris Gayle to be a big hit with Somerset - again
Gayle proved a major success during his short stint with the county last year, bludgeoning 328 runs in just three innings, including a jaw-dropping 151 not out from only 62 balls against Kent, so it is therefore little surprise he has re-signed for six matches of this season's campaign.
However, ahead of his first appearance against Sussex on June 1, Gayle is at the centre of another sexism row, having allegedly made a string of controversial comments to Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes last week.
The incident comes only a few months after Gayle provoked outrage for propositioning journalist Mel McLaughlin in a live television interview while playing for the Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League, an action which saw him fined 10,000 Australian dollars by his franchise.
While Somerset chief executive Guy Lavender admitted he was "disappointed" by Gayle's latest remarks, Maynard, speaking before the fresh allegations came to light, paid tribute to the Jamaican's contribution on and off the pitch on his last visit to the county.
Maynard told Press Association Sport: "He was fantastic with us here at the county and you speak as you find. He was brilliant with us.
"Chris played last year, he made an incredible contribution on the pitch, in the dressing room and in the town as well. He did some lovely community programmes for the club, supported those really well and he did a fantastic job all the way around.
"It's great to have him back and I'm looking forward to seeing him score a few more down here at the Cooper Associates County Ground."
One man who may not relish Gayle's presence in Taunton is Somerset captain Chris Rogers, who criticised the left-hander for his conduct away from the field and accused him of setting a bad example for younger team-mates in the wake of his comments towards McLaughlin.
Maynard is confident the pair can be civil towards each other during Gayle's stay at Somerset and believes any potential tension is diffused by the fact they will not play together.
He said: "It's all water under the bridge, they're both professional players and they're not playing in the same side. Chris Rogers doesn't play T20 cricket and Chris Gayle doesn't play four-day cricket.
"They'll probably run into each other but there won't be any issues."
Mahela Jayawardene will be available for 12 group matches as Somerset's other overseas player and while Maynard is delighted to have secured the services of the former Sri Lanka batsman and Gayle, he hopes lesser established stars can also contribute.
"We can't rely on them, it's up to the other nine players who take the field alongside them to perform as well," added Maynard, whose side lost their opener to Kent on Friday by eight wickets in a high-scoring encounter.
"You're never going to win anything relying on one or two players."
Maynard, who drove the team coach to Canterbury last week after qualifying as a bus driver, presided over a disappointing 2015 campaign in the format in which Somerset failed to reach the knockout stages.
But he will not be too downbeat if Somerset do not immediately bounce back from their Kent defeat.
"It's not the end of the world if you don't hit the ground running," he said.
"You can have a slow start but because there are so many games you can play poorly in the first five or six and then get on a run and win seven out of eight, and then all of a sudden you're going into the quarter-finals in top form."
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Matthew Maynard, pictured, will welcome Chris Gayle back to Somerset with open arms