While Gayle’s form in the current IPL is making the world sit up and take notice, his IPL career has not been all glitter in the previous editions. In 2009 and 2010 when he played for Kolkata Knight Riders, his contribution was at best ordinary(2010). He scored 171 runs from 7 innings in 2009 and a respectable 292 runs from 9 innings in 2010. Now if you add to it the fact that he was bought for $800,000 it makes the contribution look ordinary at the best.
Now you may wonder why Chris Gayle was such huge money. Here comes your answer. Standing tall at 6’3” this cricketer from West Indies has been one of their only two batsmen post Lara era, the other being Shivnarine Chanderpaul, to have the ability to take the world by storm with his abilities. His aggressive style of batting reminds somewhat of the old famed West Indian captain who could rip apart any bowling attack. If only the Windies had more such batsmen like Gayle, they wouldn’t suffer so badly on the international stage.
His aggression is one side of him. On the other side you have a patient and calm batsman who can play the long innings when required. Gayle is one of the four batsmen who have scored two triple centuries in test cricket. Add to this a handy off spin bowler and a brilliant fielder, you have a player who can hit any bowler out of the stadium, someone who can contain the batting with quick off spin and a fielder who is bound to save 4-5 runs any day on the field. So the valuation was indeed justified.
There could be many reasons why he failed in 2009 and 2010 editions of IPL. Let’s not get into a post-mortem but focus on the present. Come 2011, he has looked like the rejuvenated Gayle of the old days. His energy levels have been awesome. His batting can be renamed bludgeoning. His auxiliary skills too have looked good.
But this time the irony was that he was never bought in auction. Yes, RCB took him as a replacement for their injured Dirk Nannes. Looking back people will find it hard to believe why no one picked Gayle. Teams would be wondering how on earth we missed this bloke. But on retrospective, things are always clearer.
He started his RCB stint with a bang. In the first game against his old team he blasted a 55 ball 102* to take Royal Challengers home. The next big innings came against Punjab Kings XI: 107 in 49 balls where he hit 9 sixes. He seemed to continue from where he left the last time. Kochi was taken to cleaners as well by his 44 from 15 and a 70* against Rajasthan Royals made sure RCB won its 6th game in a row. Right, left and center, wherever bowlers from whatever team bowled, Gayle was clinical in dispatching them out of the park.
One observation rightly made by Harsha Bhogle was that Gayle seemed to enjoy his cricket this IPL. He was seen doing his little jigs when he got a wicket or was seen smiling on the field. This was not the Gayle we saw before the and during the World Cup who was clearly not in his element. So probably he has made up his mind on what to do and thus seems to be more relaxed. What we have thus been seeing has been an outstanding cricket unleashing the monster within every time he stepped out on the pitch, with absolutely no pressure on him.
Gaylish Stats for 2011 IPL
1. 37 runs in an over – Prasanth Parameshwaran would have never imagined the beating he took after his impressive first two games that he would become a part of a record in the very next game but on the wrong side. Gayle hit 4 sixes and 3 fours in an over with 1 no ball. Parameshwaran was simply hit out of the game.
2. 6 innings, 2 not outs, 398 runs, average 99.50, strike rate of 195.09, 30 sixes, 2 centuries.
3. 6 matches, 6 wickets, Economy rate – 6.29.
4. RCB has won all the matches which he has played.
Though he has not been in good terms with WICB, it’s hard to ignore a cricketer like Gayle. He might be having off- field problems, but you just cannot turn a blind eye to him after one has seen how destructive he can get with the bat. Love him or hate him but you just can’t ignore Chris Gayle.