In an era where international fast bowlers are ruling with aplomb, matching the attacking exploits of world’s best batsmen with raw pace and indefensible speed, even the spinners are making the most in competitive cricket. Damp pitches still take the Mickey out of bowlers who often have to relent making way for batsmen to pile on runs but on quick, bouncy pitches one needs charismatic and reliable batsmen who can rule.
The dynamics of cricket are changing and evolving with each passing day. Today, the game is way more rigorous and demanding more from bowlers and batsmen, more than it ever was in the glory days of the past that were known for cricket’s refinement. It isn’t a gentleman’s game anymore with consistently rising ills associated with verbal clashes and sledging deteriorating the game’s otherwise clean texture. In the days where Test cricket is being ‘protected’ in front of the audiences’ liking of shorter versions of the game, there is still much love dedicated to limited overs cricket, which is finding it tough though to match the excitement levels with the T20 encounters.
But amidst all the hype and hoopla surrounding Cricket’s tacit highs and meteoric lows largely attributed to volatile elements such as match fixing and spot fixing, while sadness enervates the average fan following the retirements of some high ranking luminaries such as the Ponting’s, Sachin’s, Sanga’s, Mahela’s, Dravid’s, Michel Clarke’s and Kallis’ there still is that space for happiness to join the cricketing bandwagon of great surprises.
While some of the stalwarts’ retirements have brought an end to an era of some of the finest batsmen the game has ever produced, with the presence of characters like Christopher Henry Gayle, much of the joy still remains attached to the ‘batsman’s game’. Gayle who turns 36 today started his phenomenal international career way back in 1999. His test debut came against the Zimbabweans, a team whose fortunes are sliding by the day as that of Gayle’s Windies, but with many of his solo handed triumphs, the lanky Jamaican known for those bludgeoning blows from the willow has kept the fans entertained for over a decade and a half.
A steady but slow start to the career of Chris Gayle
It’s quite unbelievable to note that a team such as West Indies who in their glory days came to dominate every single international team has been deteriorating at rapid pace, ever since the late nineties. If you look at their cricketing trajectory, one that boasts of giant individual talents coming in from isolated mini island nations to form a collected national team made of muscle, talent but lack of coordination, such as that of Gayle’s Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guyana, St. Kits, St. Nevis, Antigua and Leeward Islands – the game has been kept alive albeit its monumental decline by the up worthiness of names such as that of Gayle himself, Marlon Samuels, Bravo brothers, Pollard, Sammy and Russell.
Gayle who was 20 in 2000 and 27 and at the peak of his fitness in 2007, a year largely reminiscent of Brian Lara’s retirement has kept up with his batting without much ado nine years later as he turns 36 in 2015. He is still seen busy smashing best of the bowlers such as Steyn and Morkel (South Africa), Johnson, Watson and Doherty(Australia), Harbhajan and Ashwin (India) and Malinga and Kushal Perera (Sri Lanka) emanating the ideology that attack is the best form of defense. Fighting these illustrious name in an era that bleeds for West Indies’ dominance, Gayle has lifted the spirits of his side as that of cricket hungry fans with his charismatic and no holds barred approach of batting.
A checkered international career
Easy as they come and easy as they go, where Gayle will hoist the ball, no one knows. From his long career that has now spanned 16 years, Chris has collected 84 fifty’s and 37 hundreds from national duties. He has also grabbed 163 wickets from limited over cricket, a format where he has struck his and his West Indies’ only double hundred, one that was collected earlier this year in cricket’s grand carnival of the ICC World Cup 2015. His tally of over 9200 ODI runs (avg of 37) and 7500(avg of 42.3) test match runs leave little to imagination of the mighty Jamaican’s abilities. A simple, level headed batsman with tremendous self-confidence, Gayle’s literal daze to a bowler can take the skin of the leather off the ball. It isn’t an easy task coming in fired up to bowl to this 6 foot 4 inch giant
West Indies who continue to struggle to get close to their past glories are a largely insular side today. In what is an era dominated largely by a withering of their young generation losing out on Cricket and succumbing to the charms of Soccer and Basketball, it is players like Gayle who keep the crowds entertained, serving them their central want from the game: entertainment.
Rising in 2012 World T20
If there has ever been a period, even though brief in Windies’ litany of woes that has paraded nightmares for the Caribbean boys since the retirements of Walsh, Ambrose and Lara, then save for their rare successes in limited over cricket, it would have to be their domination in 2012 World T-20. Playing at Sri Lanka, away from the comfortable footing of their home pitches, a Gayle powered and Sammy led Windies blasted every opposition in a tournament of epic proportions.
Chris Gayle along with Marlon Samuels and Johnson Charles power-packed a win hungry Windies to their most precious triumph in last 2 decades. While Samuels, Gayle’s compatriot and fellow Jamaican took the attack to himself against an incredibly talented Lanka in the finals at the Premadasa Stadium, where his solo heroics of 78 off 55 punctured Lanka’s hopes of derailing Windies in the final, Gayle’s otherwise successful tournament outing was downplayed by his failure to deliver in this final encounter. Setting 139 to win off 20 overs, Windies powered by Marlon’s 5 sixes inning of 78 trumpeted over Lanka with bowlers Rampaul, Gayle, himself and Badree doing the damage. While Chris’s final knock of 3 off 16 deliveries gave heart cramps to Windies fans, his stellar dancing show on the pitch upon his side winning the game made lofty headlines.
Earlier in the tournament, he had packed the punch with scintillating power hitting during his knocks of 55 off 33 against Australia in a pool game, which he improved with a 75 run score of 41 balls in the semi’s stage against the same opponents. He and Samuels joined forces to knock Kiwis out in an important qualifying game where Gayle’s 30 off 14 powered Windies to a super over stage where Samuel’s lanky six off Tim Southee sealed New Zealand’s fate and marked his home side on the road the final game triumph.
Partnering with Samuels to advance Windies’ fortunes
Off the pitch, they party together in pure Reggae style and whilst on it, Gayle and Samuels are often seen scripting memorable records for their beloved West Indies, which the duo have been serving for over a decade and a half, in tandem. Earlier this year, in the eventful game versus New Zealand while Marlon Samuels’ quickfire 30 didn’t inspire enough power to take Windies post Kiwis’ dominant 394 run ask in the crucial game, Gayle’s 64 that came mostly with sixes took Windies to a respectable total despite their poor belting at the hands of a charged up New Zealand.
But, much before that, during the league stage, Gayle pounced on an hapless Zimbabwe at the Manuka Oval at Canberra, taking his side to a record breaking total of 372, the most ever scored by West Indies in a limited over game and also their maximum aggregation in the world cup stage. Of this score, Chris accounted for a monstrous 215 run long fest that greeted fans in the pavilion 15 times with a kiss written on top of the ball. Together with Marlon Samuels, Gayle dismissed Zimbabwean bowling attack like 9 falling pins. Samuels himself scored a sparkling century, his only in a world cup stage.
Before arriving at the prestigious stage of international cricket, Gayle and Samuels were once again in the centre stage at South Africa, where their heroics in an otherwise forgettable Windies tour helped the visitors run over a potent South Africa in the T20 series. Windies, thanks to Gayle’s 90 off 41 balls with 7 colossal sixes at all sides of the ground and Samuel’s 63 off 39 chased down their highest ever total in any T 20 game. Striking 9 sixes and 16 boundaries between them, the West Indies chased a daunting 232 with 4 balls to spare.
An accomplished test cricketer
It’s quite unbelievable to notice that Gayle, clearly cricket’s best striker of the ball alongside fellow Windies batsman Pollard( from Trinidad) averages more in tests than in limited over cricket. In the most grueling form of the game, one that makes you survive and compete for 5 long days, Chris Gayle has accomplished some thundering triumphs that have deposited many brownie points in his reserve of plaudits.
Apart from Brian Lara, Sir Don Bradman, Virender Sehwag, Gayle is the only batsman to have score 2 test triple hundreds. His personal best score that came at home 317 against the ever mighty South Africa was bettered when the tall Jamaican pounded Sri Lankans on their home turf scoring a legedary 333, also his jersey number figure.
Chris Gayle who has played a great hand in saving Windies’ fortunes many times in the face of overwhelming odds is no stranger to personal problems and challenges. In the third and final test match at Australia, Gayle the batsman retired hurt experiencing unnaturally high pulse rate. He was reported to have been suffering from a heart problem, one that saw his ouster from the game for some time but never from his loving fans’ hearts. He came back and smashed huge runs post his resuscitation. Test cricket’s 5th fastest test ton belongs to the mighty Chris Gayle who during his run-fest knock of 165 against Australia in Australia, saved the day for a struggling Windies.
The legend of Chris Gayle
If there has ever been a batsman who has scared the living daylight out of bowlers, from all parts of the cricketing continent called excitement, but with pure exploits of his blade and never with his words, then it has been Gayle. The man who holds the records of striking 500 T20 sixes, the most ever hit and also T20 World cup’s maiden century (117 off 57 vs S.A.) and the cherished IPL’s 175 run knock off mere 66 deliveries in 2013, the highest ever made in the league has entertained, collected applauds from his contemporaries and that of his rivals.
In the process of dancing, at times while supporting even Windies’ opponents, suggesting his is a sportsman’s incorruptible spirit and while gyrating to the beats of Gangnam style, Chris Gayle has not just inspired awe but taken West Indies cricket to some rare heights. Their former captain, has held the national flag stuttering around the world ever since the mighty Brian Lara retired. For his fearlessness and that herculean ability to dominate score-charts wherever he goes, Gayle for all the smile and laughter and the jubilation that he has earned , remains West Indies’ brightest star in their current cricketing galaxy.
What’s up Life wishes Gayle a very Happy Birthday.