Blog by: Anish
The very mention of Chris Gayle’s name brings fear in any bowler’s mind and this is a pointer to his phenomenal hitting abilities. He has become so synonymous with the Twenty20s and has virtually made the shortest format of the game his own.
It would surely be ignorant to say that Gayle is a mere T20 player, as he is only one of four cricketers in the history of test cricket to have scored two Triple hundreds. But it is his exploits in the slam-bang version of the game – especially in the Indian Premier League with the Royal Challengers Bangalore – that has catapulted him to being one of the most feared batsmen in world cricket and also the most sought after cricketer by all the clubs around the world.
Before being picked up by RCB in the 2011 IPL, Gayle had already scored the first century in International T20 cricket in the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa. And in the subsequent edition in England he also became the first cricketer to carry his bat through in a T20 match. But those were always seen as mere flashes in the pan and he was never bracketed in that ‘big’ player zone.
In the ODIs too, he was a player in the mould of Sanath Jayasuriya and Virender Sehwag, who would go after bowlers right from the very go but he was never spoken of in the same vein as those players were, as his consistency often failed him.
Someone like a Dwayne Bravo, who made his debut much later than Chris Gayle, went on to cement his place in the West Indian team, which Gayle had failed to do so.
Even in the IPL, Gayle was initially bought by the Kolkatta Knight Riders in 2008 but he did not have the desired impact. The franchisee decided not to retain him after his contract expired in 2010 and in the auctions that followed, Gayle went unsold, which meant Gayle would not play in the 4th edition of the IPL.
But with Dirk Nannes getting injured – and being left out of the West Indian team — RCB named Gayle as his replacement and ironically in his first game for the new franchisee Gayle scored a whirl-wind hundred against his previous team KKR. He went on to take the orange cap and that too having played four matches less than other batsmen.
In the next edition RCB retained him, it would have been suicidal to let him go to any other franchise, and he piled on the agony for the bowlers and the opposition captains and picked up the orange cap scoring 733 runs – which is a record for most runs in a single edition of the IPL, jointly held by CSK’s Michael Hussey.
The consistency which had eluded Gayle for most part of his career was with him in the youngest version of the game. Where most batsmen would be happier to score a single hundred in their entire IPL career, Gayle has 4 hundreds to his credit.
He tops the chart for most sixes hit in the IPL with 180 sixes and the next man in the list, Suresh Raina, is a way behind with 115 sixes and that too having played nearly twice the number of matches as Gayle.
The fortunes of Gayle and RCB began to rise together. RCB became one of the most feared-sides with Gayle in the fore-front being their one-man destroyer and Gayle began trotting around the world to play in one Twenty20 tournament after another. He has become a house-hold figure in Bengaluru and a colossal figure in the T20 world. The icing on the cake came when he scored 175 in last edition of IPL against Pune Warriors which is the highest score in the T20 and is also the fastest century in T20 cricket.
It happens more in football, where a player is known for his exploits for his club than his country aka Messi, but Gayle has now stamped his authority in virtually all the T20 leagues around the world, though his International record is not to be forgotten.
Recently, in the finals of the Carribean Premier League, Gayle scored 47 off 48 balls to win the cup for his club Jamaica Tallawahs which shows that he has become much more mature than he once was – with all the controversies that has surrounded his throughout his career.
Today, 21st of September, Gayle gets one more year old and bowlers around the world would be hoping and praying that his reflexes drop with his age. But fans wish to see him going strong for many more years to come. Here’s wishing him “Happy Birthday” from one of his fans.