Much like the blinders he plays for RCB in the IPL, Chris Gayle surprised many with his decision to make himself available for the West Indies cricket team in all forms of the game. Current West Indies cricket captain Darren Sammy and coach Otis Gibson welcomed the resolution of the issue and were pleased to have the flamboyant batsman back in the reckoning, especially for West Indies’ upcoming tour of England. Of course, the sudden thaw in relations between the West Indies Cricket board and the tall Jamaican won’t have an effect on Gayle’s IPL schedule as he will be up for selection for only for the ODI and T20 series’, which start about 10 days after the IPL final.
Responding to questions regarding Gayle’s return, Sports24 quoted Darren Sammy, as saying, “The Chris Gayle issue has been going on for a while. But we as a team have moved on. When Chris joins the set-up, he will be coming into a very hard-working environment - which he has to fit into.” Coach Otis Gibson, who didn’t see eye-to-eye with Gayle (both Gayle and Gibson had openly criticized each other) in the past, seemed delighted and said, “It is great to hear that Chris is available again. I'm sure the selectors will pick him, because he is world-class. If he's made himself available for the one-day series, I can't see him not being selected.” Admitting that the financial situation is anything but rosy in the West Indies, Gibson also said, “In an ideal world you would want all your best players available to you all the time and still be making money and the board to be able to say to somebody ‘we don't want you to go to the IPL, so we will pay you X amount of money to stay at home and play for us’, but the reality is that is not possible in the Caribbean because of the financial situation.”
Cynics were taken aback when Gayle pulled out of his contract to play T20 for Somerset this summer saying “I wish to advise that as of today, May 2nd, 2012, I have written to Somerset CC and advised them that I will not be honouring the commitment I made to them when I signed a contract with them for the 2012 Friends Life t20. I made it clear to them that my decision was made because of my commitment to West Indies cricket and to West Indies cricket fans, and because I believe that it is time for the WICB to make a decision which will provide a clearer view of my own future.” Not so long ago, cricket fans and the media has repeatedly referred to Gayle as a “global cricketer”, “cricketing mercenary” and various other nomenclatures that classified Gayle as someone who loved his cricket and didn’t care who he played for. Gayle was included in almost every fantasy cricket league team. However, Gayle’s actions saw him lose favour amongst fans from his home country also West Indies cricket bosses. The recent development though, has brought to the fore another aspect of Gayle who is on his way to becoming the darling of the West Indian cricketing fraternity again, for choosing his “Country above County”.
This effectively marks the end of a standoff between the West Indies cricket board and Gayle that lasted for over a year. Explaining that pulling out of a signed contract could have its repercussions, Gayle said, “I understand that by making this decision, it may place me in a position of considerable risk, since I am foregoing a signed contract, without any guarantees whatsoever, with only the hope that I will be selected to play for the West Indies again.”
For the West Indies, Gayle, who was also captain of the team between 2007-2010, has played 91 tests and has scored 6,373 runs at the average of 41.65. In ODIs, his 8,087 runs have come at an average of 39.06 in 228 matches. He hasn’t played since March 23, 2011 when West Indies lost to Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup Quarter Final.
No matter which team he represents or what format of the game he plays, one can rest assured, Gayle will continue to entertain cricket fans with his style, flair and fear-less batting.