Chris Gayle on and off the field

Chris Gayle on and off the field


Sunday, June 15, 2014

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Chris Gayle must be congratulated for playing in his 100th Test match, becoming the ninth West Indian to achieve that feat.

He joins other greats such as, Shivnarine Chanderpaul (153 matches), Courtney Walsh (132 matches), Brian Lara (130 matches), Vivian Richards (121 matches), Desmond Haynes (116 matches), Clive Lloyd (110 matches), Gordon Greenidge (108 matches), and Carl Hooper (102 matches).

Gayle is undoubtedly one of the best players Jamaica has ever produced. He has now scored over 7,000 runs, making him the eighth West Indian batsman to have done so.

He now joins the illustrious group of Lara (11,912 runs), Chanderpaul (11,219 runs), Richards (8,540 runs), Sir Garfield Sobers (8,032 runs), Greenidge (7,558 runs), Lloyd (7,515 runs) and Haynes (7,487 runs). This would make Gayle an automatic choice in an all-time Jamaica and possibly West Indies team.

Gayle is not a textbook batsman. He was never an applicant of the puritanic technique of batting. That is reserved for persons such as Lawrence Rowe and Carl Hooper.

Good technique does not necessarily result in the accumulation of runs. Gayle, over the years, has applied his own technique. This involves his ability to pick up the line and length of the ball very quickly.

Armed with broad shoulders, a huge frame and a big bat, his approach to the game has resulted in him scoring 15 Test centuries with a batting average of 42.01.

He has played 255 ODIs in which he has scored 8,743 runs, and he has played 42 T20 internationals in which he has scored a record 1,239 runs.

Movement of his feet

Many people argue that Gayle's movement of the feet is limited. This may be the view of those watching from the pavilion, but he must have moved his feet to have scored so many runs. For example, when he scored 317 runs against South Africa in 2005, and 333 against Sri Lanka in 2010.

The feat of scoring two triple centuries puts him in the illustrious company of Donald Bradman, Brian Lara and Viranda Sehwag.

Of note is the fact that Gayle is only one of four West Indian batsmen to have scored a triple century in Test cricket. The others are Lara, Sobers and Rowe.

Those who criticise Gayle for not moving his feet while batting must explain the reason for his ability to lash bowlers to all corners of the field, and his ability to occupy the wicket for long hours. This he did, for example, in 2008 at Napier, when he stayed at the crease for over nine hours and scored 197 off 396 balls. He must have been moving his feet, in his own way, to have been able to achieve this feat.

Shorter version of the game

Despite Gayle's contribution to Test cricket, he is perhaps best appreciated the world over for his explosive approach in the shorter versions of the game, especially T20.

At his best, he is incomparable, and almost unstoppable in T20 cricket. In one T20 match, in the Indian Premier League (IPL), he took 28 off a Brett Lee over, and at the end of it Lee, who was clearly out of breath, said he had never experienced anything like that before. He said the faster he bowled was the easier Gayle seemed to have been able to pick up the line and length of the ball.

In T20 cricket, Gayle fears no bowler, be it Lee, Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan or Sunil Narine. Being the original crowd-puller in the shorter version of the game, Gayle commands and is paid huge sums for his appearances.

Public Comments

Despite his sterling contribution to cricket in Jamaica and in the West Indies, Gayle, like all of us, sometimes exercises poor judgement in his public utterances.

Recently, at a function at Lucas Cricket Club, where he laudably launched his Cricket Academy, he was reported to have said: "I have only asked my country for two things ever. I have asked for two simple, simple things from the Government, and they told me no, and I am not going to get into the details of what it is.

"I have done so much for hospitals, schools, and everything, and I ask my country for a small favour... I have seen people who have not done much or anything at all for the country getting a lot of privileges, and that's very, very disappointing. And I am saying this now, it is for all you bigger heads out there, I am disappointed in you all."

Gayle must be commended for the financial contribution he has made to different entities. He must also be commended for paying his taxes. He may be right about others being given privileges, without making the requisite contribution.

Where Gayle has erred, however, is in his failure to fully disclose the nature of the request made of the 'bigger heads' and to which he has not been given a favourable response.

It is important for him to disclose the details so that members of the public can judge for themselves whether or not his request was simple.

Having raised the matter publicly, he has a duty to disclose everything, rather than give the impression that he has been treated unfairly.

Let us not forget that for over one year Gayle was locked out of West Indies cricket by the former leadership of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). It was Prime Minister Simpson Miller who stepped forward and batted on his behalf. It was Prime Minister Simpson Miller's intervention which forced the then leadership of the WICB on the back foot, allowing for Gayle's re-entry to Test cricket.

Why then would a Government led by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who was not afraid to say that he was not being fairly treated by the WICB, and who called for him to return to Test cricket, now treat Gayle unfairly? Is it that Gayle''s request has been denied because the request, despite his national contribution, is not a fair one? Was the request denied without providing him with an explanation? Gayle must answer these questions.

The Government has always dealt with such requests confidentially, and so it should. Gayle has, however, gone public with half the story. He must come clean and explain the full story, backed by figures.

In addition to Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, numerous other sport persons throughout the length and breadth of Jamaica have come to Gayle's defence. Most of what she has done for sport personalities has been undertaken behind closed doors, without any fanfare, because she appreciates the sensitivity of the cases.

It is not fair for Gayle to give the impression that the response to his "simple request" has been dealt with in an insensitive manner. I am sure it was given the deepest of consideration by all concerned, before he was informed that it was not possible.

Despite his unfortunate comments, Chris Gayle will go down in history as one of the greatest batsmen Jamaica and the West Indies have ever produced.

Those who follow the game, and who are always thrilled by the strokeplay of a master batsman will always remember Gayle's contribution to the development of Jamaica and West Indies cricket.

-- Delano Franklyn is an attorney-at-law and an advisor to the prime minister

Chris Gayle -- one of the greatest batsmen Jamaica and the West Indies have ever produced -- drives a delivery during the third day of the first Test match against New Zealand at Sabina Park last Tuesday.

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