Chris Gayle has effected a surprise turnaround to his previous statements of retiring after the World Cup, saying his post-tournament plans included “definitely” playing the ODI series against India in August as well as “maybe” another Test.
In February, Gayle, 39, had declared the World Cup would end his 50-over career. A month later, after blasting the fastest half-century by a West Indies player to wrap up the a triumphant ODI series against England, Gayle had declared that it was his “last ODI series in the Caribbean.”
His comments in Manchester, on the eve of the match against India, seem to have caught even his own team-mates by surprise. ESPNcricinfo understands Cricket West Indies was not aware of Gayle’s plans post the World Cup. Even Jason Holder, West Indies’ captain, said at the media briefing that Gayle’s revelation was news to him.
“My plans after the World Cup … may be play a Test match against India,” Gayle said on Wednesday. “And then I’ll definitely play the ODIs against India. I won’t play the T20s.”
Holder was surprised by Gayle’s U-turn but welcomed it nonetheless. “I just found out as well. So I guess I’ll have to go downstairs and have a serious conversation with him but if he is dedicated to play for the West Indies any longer then I feel it’s definitely going to benefit us
“He didn’t say anything really in the dressing room. But yeah, it’s great. It’s great for cricket. It’s good to have Chris around as I said before. He’s got a lot to offer still, I believe and hopefully his body could hold up and he could hopefully be on the cricket field for a little longer for West Indies.”
Gayle’s statements earlier this year, along with his longstanding fitness issues, meant it felt safe to assume Gayle was likely to retire at the end of the World Cup.
At the outset of the ODI series against England, Gayle said he wanted to make way for the youngsters to take charge of West Indies cricket. “Yes, I’m looking to draw the line after the World Cup,” he said. “Or should I say cut the string? Definitely, in 50-over cricket, the World Cup is the end for me. I’ll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun.”
Then, at the end of the ODI series against England, which West Indies won in St Lucia, Gayle said it was his farewell match in the Caribbean. “This is my last ODI series in the Caribbean,” Gayle said. “So I was giving the fans a nice wave. Right through the tournament they have been superb from both sides: West Indies and England sides. It would be nice if it was in Jamaica, but the crowds have been fantastic.”
India will travel to the Caribbean to play a full tour which starts with three-match T20 series, followed by a three-match ODI series bookended by two-Test series which ends in Jamaica, Gayle’s home country. Gayle has not played Test cricket since playing against Bangladesh in 2014. Having scored two triple centuries in Tests, Gayle has always fancied playing the longer format, but his back problems and various other fitness issues have not allowed him to fulfil that desire.
Never shy of declaring his own legacy, Gayle said that he was “one of the greats” but he still had some fuel left in the tank before he left cricket. “I am definitely up there with the greats, without a doubt. Enjoyed each and every moment playing for West Indies. Still not the end. Still got a few games to go. May be another series to go as well.”
So far in the World Cup, West Indies have managed just one win in six matches. Gayle has two half-centuries and he said he wanted to go out on a high, if possible in the remaining three matches. “In these three games, I would love to get a hundred as well, but if it doesn’t happen I can’t actually complain or be too hard on myself. I’ve actually achieved a lot. What I really wanted was to be in that playoff. What I really wanted was to be in that final four. And then anything could’ve have actually happened – to be able to get my hands on the World Cup.” (ESPNCricinfo)