The storm around Chris Gayle

The storm around Chris Gayle

Written by Editor

Topics: Cricket, Sports

To say that Chris Gayle has taken the fourth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) by storm is an understatement. His pyrotechnics with the willow has been consistently lighting up cricket cathedrals across India, bringing another dimension of excitement to the competition. Since his inclusion in the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) line-up, the performance of the hard-hitting left-hander has inspired seven consecutive victories – an IPL record – and a coveted berth in the play-offs.

Chris Gayle on the go against India. Behind the stumps is Indian captain M.S. Dhoni

At the time of publication of this post, Gayle had snatched the Orange Cap from Virender Sehwag to become the leading run getter in IPL4. In four fewer innings than Sehwag, Gayle has surged ahead with 436 runs at an average of 87.20 and a jaw-dropping strike rate of 201.85. He has made two centuries (a first in an IPL season for any batsman) and a half century, amassed a league-leading 32 sixes and won four man of the match awards.

“It’s the first time (in my career) that I have been so consistent and I am happy about that. When I walk in to bat I stay relaxed, keep my mind clear and tell myself – yes, I can,” the Jamaican told the Times of India after muscling his way to 38 off 12 balls in the encounter against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on May 14.

UWI Cave Hill principal Sir Hilary Beckles says his "don" reference to Chris Gayle was taken out of context.

The 31-year-old batsman appears to be enjoying the form of his life at a time when he is out of West Indies colours. After a poor showing at the Cricket World Cup and his subsequent controversial omission from the West Indies one-day squad to face Pakistan, Gayle took up an offer to play in the IPL and has rebounded with a tremendous bang. While he continues to draw praises for his golden run with the bat, a firestorm continues to surround his presence in Indian vis-a-vis his availability for national duties, issues with the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and claims of “donmanship”.

Were senior players being discarded based on the WICB’s new focus on young talent? Was Gayle cleared medically and fit to return to cricket? Was there frequent and open communication between the WICB and Gayle? Does the almighty dollar take precedence over national duties in the world of professional sports? Is Chris Gayle a “don” in the West Indies team, as suggested by Sir Hilary Beckles, and if he is, then who is the “Donovan”?

In all seriousness, cricket in the West Indies continues to grapple with a leadership deficit at varying levels, which along with other maladies threaten to tear this unifying institution apart. Administrators and players are both culpable in this ongoing drama, and until this and all other issues are meaningfully addressed at a fundamental level, it’s going to be a long toil upwards for the West Indies from the abyss of the cricketing world.

Even as the polemic and politics in West Indies cricket rages on, Gayle remains resolute in his merciless assault on opposition bowlers in IPL4. Perhaps there might be some merit in the observation of ESPNSTAR.com columnist Suresh Menon that Gayle “has been batting with a freedom that comes from not having to deal with cricket boards.”

Chris Gayle

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