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Page last updated at 13:49 GMT, Wednesday, 13 May 2009 14:49 UK

Jonathan Agnew column

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

Chris Gayle has always been something of a free spirit. That is certainly the approach he takes at the crease, and his captaincy is best described as unpredictable.

Perhaps it is not surprising therefore that he should make some carefree and, some will say, thoughtless comments about the future of Test cricket.

It is the duty of each and every Test cricketer to preserve and protect Test cricket so that future generations can also enjoy the unique qualities of the ultimate cricket challenge.

Chris Gayle
Gayle has shown little enthusiasm for the ongoing Test series

An international captain should be more responsible than this, and I hope the ICC and the West Indies Cricket Board give Gayle a sharp reminder that Test cricket is not simply for him, or for now, but for the future.

Gayle also gave the impression in his outburst that he did not care much for the West Indies captaincy. On Wednesday he stressed that he was very proud, and was not on the brink of resigning - but what effect is this going to have on his team?

Thrashed in three days at Lord's, they need strong, decisive and mature leadership to improve every aspect of their game. Even Andrew Strauss - who was combative in defending his stance over Test cricket - wondered how the West Indies players might respond.

Gayle has a point in recognising that Test cricket has an image problem, and this is not going to be improved over these next five days by small crowds and, over the weekend, wet weather. I have already given my thoughts on the ridiculous schedule this summer and repeat my call to the authorities to ensure that they promote Test cricket more responsibly than this.

The Riverside has a brand new stand to show off - but it will not be anything like full.

BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

As we continue our countdown to the Ashes, it is significant that this is the last time the Test team will get together before July's first Test.

Ravi Bopara did all he could at Lord's to book a place at number three, but come Cardiff, this early series will appear a distant memory.

There will need to be a delicate balance between judging performances here, and his one-day form between now and then but it goes without saying that another sizeable contribution at number three should answer any questions.

Graham Onions has another chance to stay in the reckoning and Tim Bresnan will hope for more of an opportunity to show off his development.

Kevin Pietersen could do with some runs, too, but the focus will be on the West Indies: do they have the heart and the spirit to come out fighting?

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see also
Annoyed Gayle in shock outburst
13 May 09 |  Cricket
England hungry for Ashes momentum
12 May 09 |  England
England recall Bell & Sidebottom
10 May 09 |  England
England seal emphatic Lord's win
08 May 09 |  England
Windies lost plot, reveals Gayle
08 May 09 |  England
Jonathan Agnew column
08 May 09 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
West Indies in England 2009
04 Dec 08 |  Cricket

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