Former and current cricketers express their views on Chris Gayle’s record-breaking feats
GEORGETOWN, GUYANA - Several records tumbled in Bengaluru on Tuesday as Christopher Henry Gayle and the Royal Challengers Bangalore rewrote 20/20 record books with a compelling performance against the Pune Warriors India (PWI) in match 31 of the sixth Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL).
Gayle, the strongly-built West Indian, hammered the PWI bowlers to all parts of the stadium, scoring a pugnacious 175 not out from a mere 66 balls and a phenomenal strike rate of 265.15.
It was T20’s highest individual score and the 17 sixes were the most in an innings in the format. His 100, which came off only 30 deliveries, is also the new record for the fastest hundred, while Bangalore’s 263-5 is now the highest team total in the format.
His 50, which took a mere 17 balls, was the joint fastest with Adam Gilchrist in the IPL.
Gayle’s 11th century in T20 cricket all but sealed the victory, as the PWI batters struggled to 133 with the Gayle himself returning to take two wickets in the final over.
Tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the globe as cricketers, analysts, commentators and fans expressed their views on the left-hander’s onslaught against the hapless PWI bowlers.
Even those at Bangalore’s Chinnaswamy Stadium were quick to recognise the prowess of the Jamaican. One poster aptly read: “When Gayle bats, fielders become spectators and spectators become fielders.”
Guyana Times sought the views of a few former and current players on Gayle’s majestic knock, which has its place firmly etched in the annals of cricket history.
Former West Indies middle-order batsman Basil Butcher said he was not at all surprised by the way Gayle’s innings unfolded.
“What Gayle is proving is the theory we had when we started playing, and that is you had to hit it along the ground or out of the ground. He is doing both very well, and to do that you have to be big and strong,” the 79-year-old Butcher, who played 44 Tests between 1958 and 1969, opined.
He added, “I’m not at all surprised by the innings; [Kieron] Pollard sooner or later will do that – they have the same philosophy when it comes to batting. Gayle drives fear into bowlers and he capitalises on that.”
Ex-West Indies fast bowler Reon King, who played alongside Gayle in both Tests and ODIs, said, “In 1999, Gayle was dominating regional cricket and Nehemiah Perry [the former West Indies and Jamaica off-spinner] told me that Gayle will conquer regional cricket, West Indies and the world. He is the most destructive T20 batsman. He has created space between himself and the others. It’s Gayle and the rest.”
King added that Gayle’s demolition of Pune’s bowling and a host of records to his name came as no surprise.
“Definitely not, he is always destructive. Now he certainly knows how to pace an innings because he has become more mature and responsible. Bowlers beware!” King emphasised.
Former First-Class batsman Mark Harper believes Gayle has become the biggest hitter of the cricket ball.
“I thought it was a wonderful innings. He probably got jealous because [Shane] Watson got a hundred [for Rajasthan Royals] the day before…being the king of T20 cricket he probably wanted to bounce back and show who is in charge,” he quipped.
Harper added, “Undoubtedly, he is the greatest hitter in the game. It goes to show that even though we [West Indies] are not on top, we still do have exceptional cricketers. It’s a great day for West Indies cricket and I hope his innings can inspire not only cricketers but sportsmen and women in general.”
Former national wicketkeeper/batsman and current member of the Guyana Cricket Board’s Senior Selection Panel, Sheik Mohamed, echoed similar sentiments, adding that Gayle’s consistency stands out.
“Gayle’s brutality has proven to the entire world that he is the best in this format and will go down as one of the greatest batsmen in world cricket. No one else has excelled in all three formats with remarkable consistency like Gayle. His career record is a true reflection of the kind of player he is,” Mohamed commented.
Guyana captain and West Indies left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul, who felt the brunt of Gayle’s power during the Caribbean T20 semi-final when he conceded 28 runs in a single over to the Jamaican, said Gayle is the ultimate match-winner.
“Gayle is not human, he’s super-human. He is a destructive batsman, [and] hard to contain. He could win a game anytime; he’s a match-winner. I wasn’t surprised because I know what he’s capable of,” Permaul said.
National middle-order batsman Leon Johnson believes it is only a matter of time before Gayle becomes the first batsman to score a double-hundred in the format.
“The innings was fantastic to watch, I’m sure the opposition players from the PWI appreciated it to some extent as well. It just reiterated the fact that Chris is the best T20 batsman in the world. Bowlers beware, 200 might be around the corner,” Johnson reckoned.
Currently, Gayle is the leading runscorer in the IPL with 432 runs from eight games. He averages 108 per innings with a strike rate of 170.07.
Gayle and the RCB will be in action again on Saturday against the Mumbai Indians and that match will bowl off at 10:30 hours.