Is Chris Gayle's record in T20s as good as Sachin Tendulkar's in ODIs?
Sachin Tendulkar and Christopher Henry Gayle – Two men who will surely go down in history books as the greatest ever to have played the game of cricket, albeit in different formats. Such has been the sheer magnitude of the runs they have scored and the quality of performances that one actually runs out of adjectives when he is faced with the task of defining Tendulkar's ODI career or Gayle's Twenty20 career.
But for a topic as debatable as this, let’s first put out the numbers before going any further:
Chris Gayle in Twenty20s (across all T20 games; List A and T20I together)
|Matches||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s||50s||Highest score|
Sachin Tendulkar in ODIs
|Matches||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s||50s||Highest score|
Please note that Gayle has scored two international centuries, out of the overall 18 tons. One should also note that he has played only 50 T20 Internationals as this format is still at its nascent stage. But what the Jamaican has achieved playing T20 cricket for scores of franchisees across the globe has simply blown everyone’s minds.
A hot property wherever he goes, Gayle has so far wielded his willow for KKR & RCB in the IPL, the Dhaka Gladiators in Bangladesh Premier league, Somerset in the Natwest T20 challenge in England, Melbourne Renegades for Big Bash League in Australia, Lahore Qalandars in Pakistan Super League, Highveld Lions in the Ram-Slam T20 in South Africa, Matabeleland Tuskers in Zimbabwe’s T20 league and also leads his home team Jamaica Tallawahs in the CPL.
Sachin retired with almost eighteen and a half thousand ODI runs in his kitty, a record which may not be broken ever (may be Virat Kohli has other plans), but we need to ask ourselves whether a tally of almost 9500 runs in a format as volatile and frenetic as T20s is any lesser.
Yes, Gayle has played "just" 263 T20 games to Sachin's 463 ODIs but the question here is, has anyone matched Gayle's brilliance in T20s so far? Isn't Gayle the undisputed boss of T20s like Sachin was in ODIs? Whom do you picture first when you think of ODIs and who flashes in your mind first when you think T20s?
Sachin in his prime could have played three shots to a particular delivery. He would just pick his spots and sometimes even picked a particular bowler for special treatment (Ask Shoaib, Caddick or Olonga!). With 49 centuries, he was miles ahead of his contemporaries, the second best being Ricky Ponting with 30 centuries.
Gayle has scored 18 centuries, yes folks, 18 centuries, in a format where an innings consists of just 120 legal deliveries! Brendon McCullum is a distant second with 7 centuries. Just the glaring gap between number one and number two bears testimony to the fact that there is nobody like Christopher Henry Gayle in T20s at the moment.
Also, both Tendulkar and Gayle are World Cup winners in the respective formats. Sachin managed to tick all the boxes on his bucket list in 2011 when India lifted the coveted trophy at Sachin’s home, Mumbai. Gayle is a double world cup winner with Windies, winning the T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2012 and India in 2016.
Both played pivotal roles in their nation’s respective campaigns and managed to bring laurels for their teams.
When we talk strictly about their game, Tendulkar was far more technically correct and had the ability to adapt his game according to different situations and varying conditions. Tendulkar was definitely far more talented and his range of sublime strokes all along the carpet was a treat to the sore eyes.
Gayle, however, doesn't believe in the theory of hitting ground-shots and he doesn't really need to! He deals more in sixes than boundaries in T20s which is ideal for the format.
There is no doubt about the fact that Sachin was a complete batsman and his exploits in ODIs goes hand in hand with Test cricket. Gayle though has his limitations in the longer formats but when you talk strictly about T20s, sky is the limit for the burly Jamaican.
Sachin, for the most part of the 90s, played high-risk cricket but delivered the goods in an emphatic fashion. With age, he did change his game a wee bit but always found ways to maintain a healthy strike rate. The fact that he scored a double hundred in an ODI towards the fag end of his career shows how well he understood his game.
Sachin carried the burden and expectations of a cricket-mad nation on his shoulders for more than two decades. In franchise cricket, there is certainly a lot less pressure from the crowd's perspective as they basically demand fun and pure entertainment.
However, with big money involved, there is definite pressure on Gayle from the team owners whenever he steps out to bat.
‘Calculative-demolition’ was Sachin's motto and the "desert storm" knock in Sharjah against the Aussies, the 98 at Centurion against Pakistan in 2003 World Cup, 200* at Gwalior against South Africa are prime examples of that. Similarly in T20s, Gayle has turned into an unstoppable force and a strike rate of 151.06 explains it.
He took to this format like a fish to water ever since its inception. Who could forget that magnificent century in the opening game of the 2007 T20 world cup against the hosts South Africa.
KKR didn't take long to sign Chris Gayle as he joined the Kolkata-based team in 2009 as he was well renowned by then for smacking the balls out of the park. Gayle was moderately successful in the first few seasons but it was when he started turning up for RCB in the fourth season, he took the IPL by storm; a storm so powerful that the term "Gayle storm" was coined.
Also Read: 6 instances when Chris Gayle went berserk
Many started calling RCB a one man force with Gayle stunning the cricketing fraternity with some unbelievable power hitting every single game. Some bowlers never recovered mentally after facing Gayle's wrath on the field.
A mind-boggling innings of 175 not out in just 66 balls (He got his 100 in 30 balls) explains Gayle’s brutality coupled with audacity. In 66 balls someone just scored 175 nonchalantly! Another game that comes to mind when we talk of Gayle’s carnage is the T20 World Cup game this year, where Gayle single-handedly annihilated England when the Windies were chasing a stiff target.
His ability to bat the opposition out of the game and his immense self-belief makes him an absolute asset for his side.
Gayle's mere presence at the crease sends shivers down the spines of his opponents. Even Sachin possessed a similar aura with his stunning ability to do the unthinkable like becoming the first batsman in ODIs to score a double century and this is what unarguably made him the greatest ever to have played 50 over cricket.
Like Tendulkar had cracked the formula for success in ODIs, Gayle seems to have cracked the T20 formula. But you can not really associate a fixed pattern to Gayle's knocks. Sometimes he starts very slowly and suddenly explodes and on other times he throws the kitchen sink from ball one. Sometimes this unpredictability plays on the minds of the opposition.
However, Gayle's consistency is highlighted by the highly unmatchable average of 42.56 which bears a striking resemblance to Sachin's 44-odd in ODI. In ODIs you might find top-order batsmen averaging in the mid-40s but no one has the massive weight of runs and tons next to their name like the Master Blaster does.
Gayle, 36, is simply miles ahead of his peers in a format he unconditionally loves and his exploits surely remind us of the great Sachin Tendulkar who shattered records while representing India in ODIs.
May Gayle continue to entertain us in the Twenty20s in the years to come and continue to better himself. More power to Christopher Henry Gayle!