Sharjah: Run machine Chris Gayle has no plans of moving away from his philosophy of having fun and enjoying his cricket — be it for the West Indies or any of the several franchises he plies his trade for.
With several senior players from the Windies opting to play in lucrative cash-rich franchise cricket around the world, the national side has been having a dismal time during their ongoing tour of India and succumbed to a 2-0 series loss on Sunday.
Gayle has been an integral part of the national squad since his 1998 debut and over two decades, the 39-year-old ‘Universe Boss’ has scored a total of 40 international centuries that includes 15 in Tests, 23 in ODIs and a couple in the T20s — making him the first cricketer to score tons in all formats of the game.
However, he has also had his share of run-ins with the West Indies Cricket Board that, in turn, has led to his omission from the national squad. On his part, the calm 6.3ft Jamaican has merely looked the other way and plied his trade with various franchises all over the globe, including the cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia’s Big Bash.
After losing both the Tests, the Windies now have five ODIs and three T20s lined up against India, after which they will visit neighbouring Bangladesh for two Tests and three ODIs and T20s each before hosting England for three Tests, five ODIs and three T20s from January to mid-March next year.
Gayle — the ‘icon’ with the Balkh Legends in the ongoing Afghanistan Premier League (APL) — said he is still open for a national team recall especially when the West Indies hosts England early next year.
“I am definitely available for selection against England,” Gayle admitted during a brief interaction with a handful of media during the ongoing APL at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium late on Saturday.
He felt that next year’s home series will be adequate enough to prepare for the 2019 ICC World Cup 2019 that is to be held in England. “At this moment, scoring runs in these leagues [franchise cricket] is important as everything can be seen as being geared up towards the World Cup,” Gayle noted.
“In the process, I’ve merely got to manage my time, my schedule and my body to ensure that I am in top shape. After this [APL], there is a lot of cricket to come. We have the T10 cricket [also in Sharjah — where he features with the Daniel Vettori-coached Kerala Kings] and after that we have so much more cricket by the time of the World Cup. I feel that at this juncture, it is all about clicking at the right time and having fun playing. And which ever franchise that I am with, I want to do well for them,” he added.
On Sunday, Gayle made his first huge impression in the current APL while justifying his huge status with a lavish 48-ball, 80 in the Balkh Legends’ huge total of 244 for six in an inconsequential group match against Kabul Zwanan.
“It’s cricket man. I mean, expectations were so high from me to come here and start blasting from the first ball. It’s always going to be difficult to get going on these wickets. You have to make the necessary adjustments,” Gayle added.