Chris Gayle: maverick, party-goer, IPL legend, record-breaker, six-hitter, reluctant runner, Boss Universe and one hell of a player.
Chris Gayle: Universe Boss
Chris Gayle has marched to the beat of his own drum from day one. It’s like the rules that apply to everyone else just don’t apply to him. He is the epitome of the maverick cricketer who relies on talent and self-belief rather than tireless training, sensible diet and advice from an army of sports psychologists, nutritionists, batting and fitness coaches.
In that regard he’s cut from the same cloth as Shane Warne, Herschelle Gibbs, Inzamam Ul-Haq or Ian Botham.
Not many cricketers get to pick their own nickname: he’s the Universe Boss. Even fewer escape ridicule when choosing a moniker that pretentious and it’s only the select few who get the cricketing public to actually start using that nickname in everyday conversation about cricket.
But his policy of playing by his own rules goes well beyond a name.
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Chris Gayle: the man who makes his own rules
Chris Gayle picks and chooses when he is and isn’t available to play for the Windies and in which format. He recently decided against touring India and Bangladesh but woke up one morning and decided he fancied a crack at World Cup favourites England in the ODI and T20 series in the Caribbean sun.
Chris Gayle trains as he pleases. There are no shuttle runs, fielding practices or batting drills on his watch. He’ll carry on doing his weights to keep those bulging biceps, rock-hard abs and the strong back that helps generate all that power in tip-top condition.
Chris Gayle doesn’t really do recovery time and rest and relaxation. When he’s not playing, he’s out partying, enjoying life. Drinking beers in the cricket party stand while watching the Windies play a Test match, dancing to Reggae on a beach, boogeying the evening away at a nightclub. As a T20 freelancer, a gun-for-hire, he answers to no-one. And If the Windies don’t approve of his lifestyle, then that’s their loss. Gayle would be the first to tell you they need him more than he needs them.
Chris Gayle doesn’t do running between the wickets. Jogging a single as he drives to long off, yes. Of course. A brisk job when he nudges it to fine leg and has all the time in the world to get two, ok. But there are no quick singles when he’s at the crease and God forbid anyone should suggest he runs three.
Chris Gayle: The reluctant runner
The problem is, the reluctance to run well between the wickets is no laughing matter, though. Many of the finest ODI players in the world are as good a judge of a quick single and as quick on their feet as they are masterful cover-drivers and square-cutters. Virat Kohli, Faf du Plessis, Kane Williamson, Joe Root, MS Dhoni and Ross Taylor, to name but a few.
Consider that in the 1st ODI against England in February 2019, he scored 62% of his runs in boundaries. When scoring 162 in the 4th ODI, the figure shot up to a barely believable 79%, on the back of 14 6s and 11 4s. His scores of 50 and 77 in the second and fifth ODIs went down a similar route.
Gayle has made himself available for the upcoming World Cup where West Indies are available at odds of 21.0 – they’ve been seriously cut on the back of drawing that ODI series 2-2 against top-ranked England and Gayle’s own performances- suggest they’re at best ‘dark horses’. For the record, that best price of 21.0 is with Royal Panda only and plenty of other bookies are going as short as 13.0 on a Windies success.
Royal Panda is going best price on the West Indies at odds of 21.0.
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Chris Gayle: the Windies World Cup gamble
This is what the Universe Boss had to say about the World Cup.
“Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I’ll be looking to put my input in as well.”
There’s no way the selectors can leave Gayle out, fitness permitting, after two centuries and two fifties from four matches against England. He was understandably, also the Player of the Series.
Add the fact that the Windies don’t really have too many options in the openers’ slot and that the mere sight of Gayle at the crease will upset any opening bowler’s concentration and you start to think that he’s not only a definite starter, but their key man.
The Selectors may however have to be patient. As ever, Gayle will do things his own way. He may take his time to start with, he’ll only run when he needs to and there will be times when he gets out just when he’s starting to get set and has wasted a few balls. He’ll bowl only if he feels like it and he won’t move too far away from first slip. Sometimes in the field, he won’t move at all.
The skipper and the management will have to take the rough with the smooth because they know what he can do. As for the cricket fan, appreciate him while he’s still there. Because there will never be another one like him.