We salute you, Mr Chris Gayle
Whatever happened that riled up Mr Christopher Henry Gayle into uttering stinging remarks recently, presumably against Jamaica's political administration, may be worth examining with a view to seeing what can be done to address the situation.
For it is not often that we find someone like the now seasoned Jamaica and West Indies cricketer hitting out in such terms, unless something dreadful was the root cause.
Mr Gayle's forthright pronouncements at the launch of his academy at the legendary Lucas Cricket Club in East Kingston last Thursday come at a time when the left-handed opening batsman and useful slow bowler is marking a milestone today -- that of attaining the enviable feat of playing 100 Test matches, assuming that fitness allows him to.
The first Test match between West Indies and visiting New Zealand at historic Sabina Park in the Jamaica capital of Kingston -- a ground originally named after a woman slave -- is significant for the tall 'home boy', as he becomes only the second Jamaican to have played 100 Test matches, the other being fast bowling great Mr Courtney Walsh.
Mr Gayle's achievement also puts him in the illustrious company of eight other West Indies cricketers -- Messrs Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards, Cuthbert Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Carl Hooper, Brian Lara, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, who is still a member of the present team, and, of course, Mr Walsh.
And while he has deflected attention from the importance and significance of achieving the 100-Test milestone to speculation of what it was that he asked the Government for and did not get, there is no way that we could follow the crowd into wanting to know what is wrong and simply forget what the former Excelsior High School student has achieved since he made his debut against Zimbabwe at Port of Spain on March 16, 2000.
In that match he made 33, run out, and zero, batting at number three. But it marked the beginning of new dawn, and Barbadian Mr Joel 'Big Bird' Garner, one known to drive fear into the hearts of opposing batsmen, was spot on when he argued for the selection of Mr Gayle in the West Indies squad. Shrugging off a challenge with the functioning of his heart early in his career, the usually cool performer went on to achieve a respectable record in the three versions of the game.
In Test matches, Mr Gayle's 99 matches so far have yielded 6,933 runs, including 15 centuries and 34 half centuries at an average of 42. He also has a topscore of 333 against Sri Lanka and has taken 90 catches, most of them in the slips.
He is only one of four batsmen worldwide to have scored triple centuries twice in Test matches, the others being Sir Donald Bradman of Australia, Mr Lara, and Mr Virender Sehwag of India.
Equally impressive are his statistics in 50-over cricket. Here, he scored most runs -- 8,743 from 255 matches, a best of 153 and an average of 37.5.
If that were not enough, Mr Gayle's accumulation of runs for the Caribbean team in the popular twenty20 version -- 1,239 from 42 matches at an average of 32.60 and a blazing strike rate of 135.55 -- places him on the top shelf.
He is the first man to score a hundred in T20 cricket (117) and still holds the record for the Indian Premier League's highest individual T20 score of 175 made last year.
Today, we say congratulations and thanks to Mr Gayle for all that he has done for the advancement of West Indies cricket, even though at one time we felt that the West Indies Cricket Board was harsh on him in its team selection and pussyfooted for too long in allowing him back on the team, following differences between both parties.
We hope that he will continue to play for as long as it is physically possible for him to do so and that he will keep on thrilling fans with his brilliant strokeplay.
Well done, Mr Gayle.