The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’, Chris Gayle has never been a cricketer to shy away from the limelight. His broad-shouldered swagger to the crease at the start of his team’s innings has become a familiar sight in T20 leagues across the world.
Gayle’s T20 record with the bat is extraordinary. The left-hander has scored 21 hundreds in the format; no other player has more than seven. His overall run tally is more than 1000 more than his closest challenger and only Brendon McCullum has scored more career runs than Gayle has managed in boundaries alone. His 175* for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 2013 IPL remains the highest individual score in T20 cricket.
But before he became a T20 gun for hire, Gayle’s career began with him making an impact on the longest form of the game. He had already played 52 Tests before his T20 debut, notching up seven hundreds including a double against New Zealand in 2002 and a triple against South Africa in 2005.
Another triple followed against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2011, an innings that saw Gayle join Lara, Sehwag and Bradman as the only batsmen in Test history to score two triple hundreds. In 2015, Gayle became the first West Indian batsman to score a double hundred in ODI cricket when he demolished Zimbabwe for 215 in a World Cup Pool match in Canberra. No West Indian batsman has scored more hundreds in the 50-over format and only the great Sir Vivian Richards has a higher strike rate of those to have scored 5000 runs or more.
As Gayle’s career nears its end, his position as one of the game’s great entertainers is assured. His contribution to rekindling interest in the Caribbean, at least in the shorter formats cannot be denied and his influence as a power-hitter at the top of the order continues to be felt.