When Virat Kohli remarked that it did not matter to Chris Gayle what sort of bowling was out there or how the pitch behaved, he was not kidding.
“The only things that matters is which side of the bed he got out of and how he subsequently feels. If those are fine he is ready to ‘boss’ over any attack, anywhere,” the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper said in appreciation of the ‘Universe Boss’ spectacular innings against Gujarat Lions.
Gayle is phenomenal without doubt. He has repeatedly demonstrated rare, incredible batting skills across formats to seem like a one-man demolition army.
Modern young T20 fans may not be aware that he has two triple centuries in Tests and a double hundred in ODIs. A cursory glance at the sheer weight of his runs across formats is staggering: 10,074 runs and counting in T20s; 7,214 runs in 103 Tests and 9,221 in 269 ODIs!
The mountain of runs reveals the extraordinary ability and dexterity of this modern-day batting giant whose longevity and incredible ability to attract and entertain crowds is matchless.
"I want to thank my fans and franchises, even West Indies. They have all played a part in these 10,000 runs. It has been fantastic. I still have a lot more to offer to fans. Hopefully, I can keep entertaining and get a few more thousand runs under my belt," he said after crossing the 10,000-run milestone in T20 cricket.
The left-hander’s pulverising 38-ball knock of 77, which included seven sixes and five boundaries, was riveting for the ease with which he brought power and grace into play.
The only thing wrong with that terrific knock was that it was not played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. Had it been enacted there, 40,000 frenzied spectators with their unbelievably deafening roars of approval and cheers would have brought the roof down in that cauldron-like atmosphere.
They simply love the man out there. His showmanship, languid walk, loud laugh, ever smiling and playful interaction with spectators and, above all, his six-hitting prowess, draw roars of approval every single time. For them Kohli, AB de Villiers and he, all belong to the pantheon of cricket Gods, each special and each a remarkable crowd favourite.
The toughest part of being Gayle was not being a regular in the RCB playing eleven. The rules of IPL are such that only four overseas players could be accommodated and every time the RCB management felt that the pitch was slow and not conducive to power-hitting, or that Gayle was out of form, he was kept out. He mentioned that on Tuesday and added that he was happy just to be playing.
Coach Daniel Vettori appreciating Gayle’s innings, added, “Chris is a proud man. He wants to do well for himself. For RCB.”
“When he is this sort of form it allows me to settle down, play my game, bat through the innings and may be accelerate towards the end,” said a beaming Kohli, no doubt thrilled that the famed RCB batting was at last coming together this season. The duo added 122 runs for the first wicket and set RCB firmly on its way.
“The 10,000-run mark was playing on my mind. Before the start of the game Samuel Badree reminded me of it. ‘Make sure you get it’ he’d said. Once I got past that mark I decided that it was time to express myself and have a go at the bowling. It paid off and I’m happy with the way it went,” said Gayle.
Actually the Caribbean hit-man was lucky to be playing. A back injury kept de Villiers out of the playing eleven and Gayle made the most of the opportunity to run into form.
The fact that he has 10,074 runs from 290 matches, a clear 2,550 runs more than the second best batsman Brendon McCullum, speaks volumes of his consistency over a decade and more. An average of above 40 in this format of the game is exceptional, given that batsmen have the license to throw caution to the wind. His strike rate of 149.20 over such a long period too is extraordinary.
Gayle has 18 centuries – seven more than the next best, McCullum, and 61 fifties under his belt. To put this feat in perspective, Kieron Pollard, who has scored 7,087 runs in 363 matches does not have a single ton.
Gayle who made his international debut in an ODI against India in Toronto way back in 1999 has also scored 15 Test centuries and 22 ODI hundreds. He has had his run-ins with the West Indies Cricket Board before he decided to quit Tests (in 2014) and ODIs (2015) and focus wholly on his career as a freelance T20 cricketer.
Having played for 18 teams, including West Indies, in T20 matches across the globe, Gayle, at the zenith of his career, proudly proclaimed after the match: “People are still looking out for Chris Gayle. The Universe Boss is still here and still alive!”
Updated Date: Apr 19, 2017 11:26 AM