Chris Gayle (centre) with Pakistan allrounder Sohail Tanveer (left) and Kerala Knights team owners Nader Adam Ali, Shafi Ul Mulk and Asaf Thara Ali. Image Credit: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Dubai: Chris Gayle, known as the ‘King of Sixes’ and superstar of shorter-format cricket is here to represent the defending champions Kerala Knights in the second edition of the T10 League commencing from today at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

In an exclusive interview to Gulf News, Gayle expressing his delight at playing for Kerala, which had just overcome a disastrous flood that ravaged the state recently, said: “I want to help Kerala Knights win the T10 title to bring joy to those affected by the floods in Kerala. This T10 format is entertainment as well and I am sure that if the people who get a chance to tune into television and watch Kerala Knights give a swashbuckling performance, I am sure then each and everyone will get entertained. There are many entertainers in the team and everyone should be looking forward to the event just like I am.”

Gayle in his inimitable style, cherishing the aura of being called a King, was a bit surprised that the name of Kerala Kings had to be changed from the first edition to Kerala Knights. “The change of name to Kerala Knights and at a time when the King [Gayle] has just arrived surprised me but it is good to be a part of Kerala,” he said. “I looking forward to especially to play for the defending champions.”

Gayle then went on to reveal his rapport with Kerala state. “During my stint with IPL, I had a chance to visit Kerala,” he said. “It was fantastic and a great experience. I enjoyed being in the Kerala’s backwaters, experience their food and culture — all were phenomenal. I have got a lot of friends from Kerala as well, like Kerala player Sachin Baby. So some way or other I am associated with Kerala and when the flood actually happened Baby reached out to me to post it and get some help for Kerala. Today I am here representing Kerala and thanks to the owners who felt that my presence will make another addition to win the Cup again.”

So frank is Gayle that he did not hesitate from calling himself the best. When asked whether T10 is most suitable for his style of cricket, Gayle remarked with a smile: “Every format will be a Chris Gayle format … long, short, you name it. Any format I can make it very interesting. Last year when this tournament was being planned I could not get time to come here but when I heard that it was a successful tournament I told myself that I should play in the next edition and here I am ready for the first game. I hope I can entertain everyone.”

Gayle is the most sought after player by all leagues around the world. In fact, he had just returned home after playing in the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) in the UAE. “To be honest with you, it is tough to be travelling,” he said. “Only a few weeks ago, I played in the APL in Sharjah and went back home. There I had some sad news as my mum passed away. It took me a week to get myself together. Then I went for the South Africa T20 league, played one match for them to give it a bit of boost as well. Here I am back to Dubai again to be part of the T10 League.”

Gayle is also looking forward to hitting some big boundaries in the T10. “Normally I take a while and have a look before hitting sixes in T20 games,” he said. “In T10 we cannot waste too many deliveries and must get on with it right away. So if I get a chance I will go for sixes.”

Gayle is also keen to play once more in Sharjah. “It’s a great stadium and I have been playing there since 1999 when I started to play for West Indies,” he said. “So for more than 18 years, I have been coming regularly and it has always been a good hunting ground.”