'Off-field trouble part of cricketer's life' - Gayle
Chris Gayle's return to the West Indies ranks has been a happy one. He has tucked a Test century and a world title under his belt since June this year when the 15-month impasse with the WICB ended. He's also worldlier, not just from playing all the Twenty20 leagues, but for being equipped to deal with every aspect of cricket administration, an aspect he thinks is a "part of life" as an international cricketer.
"We are playing international cricket, so there's going to be issues to deal with on and off the field," Gayle said. "As a player you have to know how to deal with things around your career. You have to be strong-minded to get the job done. It is part of life."
Following the 2011 World Cup, the Gayle-WICB saga came to a head after Gayle criticised the selectors. He was first dropped for the visits of Pakistan and India to the Caribbean and was also ignored for the tour to Bangladesh in October. He went on to miss series against India, Australia and England from November 2011 to June this year, West Indies having won just 14 out of the 47 international matches during this latest stint away from the team. The standoff was only broken when he and his agent met the selectors in St Vincent, following which the WICB picked him for the limited-overs leg of the England tour.
Despite the return, Gayle has said that off-field issues are endemic, and it has to be dealt with. "We will always have these things to deal with off the field, every particular board is going to have problems. It is something we have to live with."
Gayle has made it count though. He made 150 and another half-century over two Tests against New Zealand earlier this year and he has averaged above 50 in ODIs and Twenty20s since his return. And he's been having fun in the dressing-room too.
"If you don't have fun, you'll struggle in international cricket. I am enjoying it, it's good to be back and contributing at the top of the order. Hopefully in the next couple of years, things can get better from a personal point of view. I will try and entertain as much as possible," said Gayle who turned 33 during the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, a tournament that saw West Indies back on the winners' podium after 33 years.
Gayle said he can look back to the tournament with fond memories, but is now more inclined to focus on Test cricket. "It is great, to get that milestone of winning the World T20," he said. "This is something that I can look back in the future and say I was a part of it. This is just another target we can set, and do better in the longer form of the game. That has been our major challenge in the last couple of years."
He was also happy to see Darren Sammy, the man who took over long-term from Gayle (though Dwayne Bravo and Floyd Reifer were in charge for three games in the interim), take strides as the leader.
"He has played a particular role in the last two years," he said. "It is not an easy role to be captain. We are trying to make his job as easy as possible. We try to play a part by helping him out, but he's done well. He got a Test century this year which is a big improvement from his personal point of view. He's doing well with the ball too. He will get to learn more and make changes and see how he can cope with it, to be a better captain."
When West Indies take on Bangladesh in the first Test at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium from November 13, it will also be Gayle's first Test away from home in almost two years.