What’s the story?
West Indies batting superstar, Chris Gayle, has expressed his intention to continue playing for the next two years. “I am targeting another T20 World Cup and another 50-over World Cup for myself. I have to keep my fitness and can compromise and play the national tournaments … most want popular players back in the team,” said Gayle.
In case you didn’t know…
The 37-year-old Gayle has played over a 100 Tests for his country, averaging over 40. In the limited-overs format, he has appeared in 269 ODIs as well as 50 T20Is for the West Indies. Since his international debut in 1999, Gayle has been an integral member of the West Indies squad until he was dropped due to a pay dispute with the WICB.
The Jamaican has plied his trade around the world, becoming a household name through his performances in the IPL, CPL, BPL, PSL, BBL and England’s T20 Blast. He has been in poor form of late but promises to put on a show for his home crowd in the game against India in the one-off T20I.
Gayle will be 39 by the time the 2019 World Cup and 2020 T20 World Cup roll around and his place in the team may be under contention. However, some fiery innings with the willow will make everyone again stand up and take notice.
However, it can be noted that the shortest format is more conducive to old hands like Gayle. Batsmen like Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Michael Klinger, Michael Hussey, Misbah Ul-Haq, and Shahid Afridi, none of whom are spring chickens, have thrived in Twenty20s. The onus, though, will be on Gayle to maintain his form and fitness so that he is raring to go for every game.
There is also the small matter of pay disputes. The WICB has been at loggerheads with its players over their participation in the Super50 and Regional 4-day tournament. The board, which cannot afford to pay players as well as T20 leagues can, has told players that they will be ineligible for selection if they do not play in the domestic tournaments.
These tournaments clash with T20 leagues around the world and most of the West Indian giants, like Dwayne Bravo, Chris Gayle, Samuel Badree, Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard, have opted to take a payday.
The board remains firm, partially due to Dave Cameron, who is a “big idiot” according to some, and the West Indies almost never present a full strength side in internationals. Even in T20Is, for which these players are eligible, there have been disputes on pay, which means that Gayle, would have to sort his issues with the board, at both the ODI and T20I level, to be able to participate in the T20 World Cup and the 2019 World Cup.
Bringing back the stars is the first step to a strong West Indies. The board needs to coax the players into an agreement which means that they play some games of the domestic tournament and still get to earn big bucks in the Twenty20 leagues.
Gayle would be focal for this. His compromise is a beacon of hope for the WICB. They need to capitalise on it. For Gayle, successful World Cup campaigns will be a swansong to a glorious, albeit controversial career and we hope that he is able to help sort out his disputes with the boards and become a regular member of the West Indies team, even if it’s just for two years.