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The Northern Knights will play the Otago Volts in their final HRV Twenty20 game without the services of West Indian allrounder Chris Gayle, but coach Grant Bradburn said today they were close to signing him.
"We thought we had him signed up and coming over but he has decided to stay in Sydney,'' Bradburn said.
"It would have been nice - even though we are out of contention-_ for the crowd and the event, to have a player like him but it wasn't to be.''
The Knights had hoped to bring the big-hitting Gayle to Hamilton's Seddon Park for a one-off match in order to attract a big crowd following a tough season financially. Several Knights matches over the holiday period were badly affected by rain which kept crowds away.
Gayle finished his stint in Australia's Big Bash League last night as his Sydney Thunder side were thrashed by the Brisbane Heat at the Gabba. Although he scored a first-ball duck in his final innings, he has been a success for the Thunder this season, scoring an unbeaten century off 54 balls and two half-centuries.
The Knights' Dan Vettori and Volts' Brendon McCullum played against him for the Heat last night.
Bradburn announced two changes to the Knights team for the match against the Volts, Brett Hampton replacing BJ Watling after his call-up to the New Zealand XI and James Marshall coming in for the injured Corey Anderson.
Knights: Scott Styris (c), Graeme Aldridge, Trent Boult, Anton Devcich, Brett Hampton, Hamish Marshall, James Marshall, Peter McGlashan, Tim Southee, Daniel Vettori, Kane Williamson, Brad Wilson.