COMMENTARY: Thanks and Bye Chris

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By Rany Felix

And so the sun has seemingly set on the career of one of the leading West Indies batsman in the modern game of cricket. I write this with no apology and no fear of contradiction. Love or despise him, say whatever you want about him, bring out his many infractions and distractions if you wish, there is no getting away from the fact that Christopher Henry Gayle has made a significant contribution to West Indies and indeed world cricket. Period!! Facts are very stubborn things.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are some of these interesting facts (credit Cricinfo 6th Nov, 2021).

Christopher Henry Gayle, born 21 September 1979; member of WI team which won 2004 ICC Champions Trophy, 2012 ICC World Twenty20 and 2016 ICC World Twenty20. He is the most capped player for the West Indies in international cricket and is the only player to score a triplet of centuries – a triple hundred in Tests, double hundred in ODIs and a hundred in T20Is. Gayle is the only player to score more than 14000 runs and hit more than 1000 sixes in T20 cricket; he is the leading run scorer for West Indies in both ODI’s and T20I’s and along with Brian Lara the only player to score more than 10, 000 runs for West Indies in ODI Cricket. In addition to his batting, Gayle has picked up over 200 International Wickets with his Right-arm off break spin bowling. He was awarded the Most Valuable Player in the 2011 Indian Premier League and held the Orange Cap in 2012. On 23 April 2013, Gayle broke the record for the fastest ever T20 hundred in his landmark knock of 175 runs from 66 balls for Royal Challengers Bangalore against Pune Warriors India in the IPL, which is also the highest score ever by a batsman in T20 history. He also equaled the record for the fastest 50 in T20 cricket while playing for Melbourne Renegades in the Big Bash League.

In Tests, Gayle has scored over 7000 runs at an average of over 42 with a highest score of 333. He captained the West Indian Test side from 2007 to 2010

 

Career statistics
Competition Test ODI T20I FC
Matches 103 301 79 180
Runs scored 7,214 10,480 1,899 13,226
Batting average 42.18 37.83 27.92 44.83
100s/50s 15/37 25/54 2/14 32/64
Top score 333 215 117 333
Balls bowled 7,109 7,424 381 12,511
Wickets 73 167 20 132
Bowling average 42.73 35.48 22.00 39.34
5 wickets in innings 2 1 0 2
10 wickets in match 0 0 0 0
Best bowling 5/34 5/46 2/15 5/34
Catches/stumpings 96/– 124/– 20/– 158/–
Source: ESPNCricinfo, 6 November 2021

As I write, Chris Gayle has not formally announced his retirement, except to say that he would not mind playing one more game in front of his home crowd. The West Indies are scheduled to play Ireland, England and India in the new year. There appears to be some interesting noises coming from high officials of the  Cricket West Indies (CWI), almost suggesting that Mr Gayle is likely to get his “one more game” wish. On current form, Gayle does not merit a place on the West Indies team. His inclusion on the team at the moment would be a denial of a place to an emerging youngster, or an inform player, notwithstanding the bare nature of our cricket cupboard.  In my view, granting Chris that last game, purely on a sentimental basis, would be setting a dangerous precedence, the ramifications of which CWI would be saddled with for some time to come. Should CWI feel that they “owe” Gayle another final hoorah (his inclusion in a T20World Cup squad was certainly one), then, by all means. organize a Testimonial match for him.

In a previous article, I posited that I would not have picked Chris on my World Cup squad. When he was selected I supported the team and backed him to come good on the grand stage.  Up to the WI’s final match against Australia, I held out hope that Chris would leave in a blaze of glory. He did not. Instead, I looked on in complete shock as Gayle, clowned around in the field and the West Indies put on a performance, which I perceived to be at the level equivalent to that of a “fete match”. For me, that was painful indeed.

All the while Austrailia were clinical and professional in their approach.

One of my pet peeves about some great personalities, in whatever field of their greatness, is an apparent ignorance as to when to make their departure. I recall former Chief Youth Development Officer Ms Elizabeth Alfred, in the 1990’s, providing me with an astute lesson, “Leave while you are at the top of your game; when people still want you; don’t wait for them to ask you to leave or to begin pushing you out; it usually leaves a bad taste in in the mouth of everyone.”

It would seem that Gayle does not subscribe to this advise. And so I say, Chris has had his time in the sun. It is time for him to leave the international game. If he does not move, then CWI should take the lead. But then again, it may be that Gayle, like our local cricketing stalwart Lockhart Sebastien, will simply not announce his retirement. Sebo never did! In fact he was quoted in one of the late Tony Cozier’s cricket publications as saying, “ I did not announce my arrival; why should I announce my departure?”

In recent times and in particular since my article captioned, “Come On, Chris”, some of my friends have admonished me – leave Chris Gayle alone.  I would love to.  As a die-hard fan of Chris Gayle, I have admired the destructive power hitting of the man, his ability to play shots all around the wicket ( never mind his technique or lack thereof, runs on the board is the bottom line), his unruffled and cool nature. All this combined to present an intimidation factor that has preceded him in every game that he has played, i.e. until about 1yr ago. For entertainment value, you can’t fault the guy. I stand proudly among the legion of cricket fans, who have simply basked at his entertainment shrine. I certainly miss his batting flare.

Having said this, let me be quick to say that I have not appreciated his off field infractions, some of which, I believe, have brought the game into disrepute. I still cringe reflecting on his verbal attack on Sawarn just under 2 years ago, his infamous statement in May 2009, that he would not mourn the loss of test cricket if it were to disappear and his recent views on Sir Curtley Ambrose, among others. But this a chapter for another edition, by another writer

I end by saying to Chris, Move on; You have made your mark and at this moment, there is nothing to prove. Thanks much for contribution to WI cricket and Bye! Sincere best wishes in your endeavors beyond the boundaries.

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