Erstwhile Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Pune Warriors India were on the verge of signing Chris Gayle in IPL 2011. However, their head coach Geoff Marsh opposed the move, terming the West Indies batsman “indisciplined”, revealed then team director Abhijit Sarkar.
In a live chat with Indranil Basu on Sportskeeda’s Facebook page, Sarkar said that the opportunity to sign Chris Gayle came when Sri Lankan all-rounder Angelo Mathews was ruled out of IPL 2011 with a leg injury. Incidentally, Chris Gayle went unsold in the auction that year after the Kolkata Knight Riders released him.
“So, it came in my mind when we did a conference call with both the coaches, our manager, who were associated with us – everybody together. So naturally the name [that] came [up] was [Chris Gayle]...‘why not take Chris Gayle as replacement for Angelo Mathews?’” said Sarkar.
Mathews was initially hailed to be an integral part of the team after the Pune side bought him in the auction for $950,000. So, Chris Gayle was not only a better bid in terms of power-hitting, but he could also have formed a formidable opening combination with Jesse Ryder.
However, Geoff Marsh was not keen to sign Chris Gayle. The PWI management, including Sarkar, tried to convince Marsh, but he remained unflinched.
“Geoff Marsh immediately opposed it. He said, ‘No no, he is not a disciplined guy, he will make the atmosphere of the team very bad, it will be very difficult to control the team...I am not in favour of taking Chris Gayle.’ We tried to convince him but he said no,” Sarkar further revealed.
What could have been for Chris Gayle and Pune Warriors
The Pune Warriors eventually called in Australian all-rounder James Faulkner as the replacement, who Marsh had then termed “very bright”. On the other side, the Royal Challengers Bangalore flew in Chris Gayle as replacement for injured fast bowler Dirk Nannes and the move immediately paid dividends.
Gayle scored a 55-ball 102 in his first match against KKR and did not look back ever since. Despite missing the first five matches of that season, Chris Gayle finished as the highest run-getter – 608 runs in 12 matches – and helped RCB finish runners-up.
He won the ‘Orange Cap’ the following year too and is currently the sixth-highest run-getter – 4484 runs in 125 matches – and has hit the most sixes (326) in IPL history.Published 31 Aug 2020, 10:17 IST