Home is where the heart is!
Gayle wants to give back to Jamaica cricket after WI exploitsTuesday, March 02, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
With his recent call-up to the West Indies Twenty20 squad signalling another turnaround in his illustrious career, hard-hitting batsman Chris Gayle says he hasn't ruled out returning to Jamaica to assist with cricketing development, but didn't specify in what role.
The 41-year-old, who has offered 20 years of service to Jamaica's cricket since his debut in 1998 at age 19, pointed out that he is still fit and healthy both mentally and physically, and as such believes he might have called time too early on his A-List career.
Gayle ended his career for Jamaica in 2018, with a match-winning century against Barbados in a Super50 Cup contest. Soon after, he announced that he would retire from ODIs after the 2019 Cricket World Cup, but later reversed that decision in June 2019.
“Maybe I did still have more to offer to Jamaica cricket as well, but that was with the 50-over aspect of things. I am still open to doing what I can to help out with Jamaica cricket, but there is a lot of structure that needs to be put in place as well,” Gayle shared during a press conference via Zoom yesterday.
Though he might not have played a lot for Jamaica due to West Indies duties, Gayle teamed up with players who formed that golden era when the country set many records and won a number of titles, including five-straight regional four-day championships between 2007-08 and 2011-12.
Since then, Jamaica has struggled in the regional competitions and that for Gayle is a cry for help, as the country failed to build a structure around, and capitalise on the foundation set by those rampant Jamaica teams.
“I haven't really discussed anything with anyone on the board or anything like that [where a role is concerned] but Jamaica's cricket needs help because there is a lot of talent there and we don't want to lose them.
“We have lost a lot of talent in Jamaica already and we don't want to lose anymore. So we just need to keep the players happy and then we try and rebuild Jamaica cricket,” Gayle reasoned.
Given his knowledge, expertise and experience on the big stage, Gayle, who has scored 42 international centuries, which includes 15 Tests, 25 ODIs and 2 T20I centuries, stressed that he had long expressed an interest in mentorship to assist other players in their development.
The explosive left-hand batsman was the first cricketer to score centuries in all formats of the game.
“Absolutely. I said this before, that I don't mind playing that role of being a mentor because I still have a lot to offer within the game and to players as well, not only younger players but even to senior players and I would love to share my knowledge,” the self-proclaimed Universe Boss noted.
“Because I am a pretty good reader of the game and I can pick up things from a batting point of view and I am also good at analysing situations, I can impart that to them and then it would be on them to use it the best way possible,” he added.
For now, however, Gayle's focus is on assisting the West Indies in their three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka and by extension on the T20 World Cup later this year, as he targets a third T20 world title.
While admitting that he had considered walking away from the game internationally to focus his efforts on the franchise circuit at the backend of his career, Gayle said it was hard to say no to a West Indies call-up, as home is where the heart is.
“I actually thought about walking away from the game and people asked me not to and encouraged me to stay and play as long as possible, so I decided that I was going to press on. I wasn't actually thinking down this road, I was thinking about franchise cricket, entertaining people as much as possible, and whatever is left to offer within the game from Chris Gayle, I want to exploit around the world,” the outspoken player, who returns to West Indies colours for the first time since the 2019 World Cup, revealed.
“But when I got the call [from selectors] I said yes, you know my heart is with playing for the West Indies and I was never going to turn down anything pertaining to West Indies cricket at this point in time. So I came back from Pakistan to be a part of the set-up leading into the World Cup so we can have a unity within the group and then hopefully lift this T20 trophy.”
Gayle says he has by no means lost his mental or physical edge in the game and still has a lot left in the tank which he is hoping will come to the fore when the series bowls off in Antigua tomorrow.
“It is more mental than physical to me; it's the willpower of the mind. The mind still wants to be out there and be out there on the park, still executing from a batting point of view and still having fun. That's what gives me that extra drive to continue playing. If the mind stops operating like that for me, then I would have to ask myself a big question there, but for now, it's the mindset.
“The mindset is still good, I'm still looking after myself, I still do my training and I still eat properly. I make sure I have a clear mind at all times because it is important to keep your mind very sharp,” said Gayle.
Still, Gayle, who was a part of the teams that won the 2012 and 2016 World T20 titles, does not want the focus to be about him during the team's long-term preparations for the tournament.
“I know being back, it might be a little bit of attention, but I don't want it to go in that regards, to be honest with you. We are looking at things as a team, we have a strong captain in [Kieron] Pollard and we have a lot of very good-quality players within the team. So I just want to win the series and get off to a good start. It's good to be back and like I said, hopefully I can perform and put the team in a good position,” Gayle stressed.
“We want to build confidence leading up to the World Cup by winning series. I know we haven't really had that sort of result recently, so we want to start getting into winning ways to make it a bit comfortable and easier heading into the World Cup.
“We have quite a few series coming up, so we will try and take as much out of this series and get some momentum leading up to the World Cup. Though it's a long way off, we have to keep the energy up, keep fit and get ready to show the region what we are capable of,” he said.
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