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December 25, 2013

Where the hell is Henry?

Paul Ford
Always jolly japes when Chris is around. The operative word being "when"  © Getty Images
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Excellent. New Zealand have successfully pummelled West Indies in a Test series, and were unlucky to only win 2-0 instead of 3-0. That is a sentence rarely written without telling porkies.

Of course, you can only beat whoever and whatever is put in front of you, and Brendon McCullum's side has done that solidly for three weeks. But West Indies really were dreadful.

That stereotypical Caribbean lackadaisicalness looked to have crossed over into a dangerous realm that was not so much nonchalant as just not caring at all. As the West Indies lower order slogged and limped its way to an innings defeat at the Basin, you could see the bench players laughing away at the procession of wickets. That sort of carry-on is pretty disappointing from any Test team, and it's disrespectful to the game and the punters shelling out NZ$43 for the privilege of watching.

I hope I'm wrong about that, and as a cricket fan more than a patriot, I pray to the cricketing gods that we see more of a genuine contest in the limited-overs matches.

One thing I am increasingly sceptical about is the whereabouts of the talismanic run machine known as Christopher Henry Crampy Sixer Gayle. Having torn a hammy off the second ball of an ODI in Kochi, Gayle was stretchered off before being ruled out of cricket for up to four weeks.

Ten days ago the cricketing nomad pulled pin on the New Zealand one-dayers as well. I wouldn't be surprised if he completed the third stanza and also bailed from the T20 matches.

Note too that he has a contract to play for Lance Klusener's Dolphins in South Africa, and that wonderfully named Ram Slam domestic T20 competition starts on 5 January. Last year Gayle couldn't make it to Dolphins after sustaining a groin injury in Dhaka.

I'm not bitter about Gayle's "bat for hire" approach to cricket, but it would have been fantastic to see him visit the cricketing pastures of New Zealand. Last time he made it to these shores five years ago he made quite an impression with his willow and his off-field antics.

These included some shenanigans at a civic reception in Dunedin, and there were also reports he "inspired" several of his team-mates into donning white suits, canes and top hats for a bit of booty-shaking in The Octagon. Pun-writing journalists have now been burgled of headlines about Gayle forces and the like too, so it will be back to "calypso collapse" on that front.

Gayle has hardly been preoccupied with the plight of his team either, at least from what you can tell by his prolific tweeting. Since the tour to New Zealand commenced, Test cricket hasn't warranted a mention, as he promotes his humbly named Triple Century Sports Bar on Knutsford Boulevard in Kingston (the manager said on opening night: "Chris Gayle wanted somewhere that he could entertain his friends at his own place"), dishes out classic dating advice ("Fat, single and she's still eating Pringles") and pops into a Sydney Thunder net session.

It seems a shame he couldn't find time to duck over this side of the Tasman to inspire his team-mates, or at least help with promoting the matches to a Kiwi audience who admire his bludgeoning approach to the game. We have pubs, women and cricket nets too.

We miss you, Crampy.

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Paul Ford is a co-founder of the Beige Brigade. He tweets here

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Posted by   on (December 30, 2013, 21:46 GMT)

Nice article I find it funny that this is the man so many want captaining WI cricket. I'm a proud West Indian fan who follows Chris Gayle on twitter and not once while we were being destroyed by NZ did he seem to care about our performance; too busy flirting and promoting his sports bar.

Posted by Frayninho21 on (December 24, 2013, 20:13 GMT)

Otis Gibson seems to think he will be fit for the 2 x T20's vs New Zealand. Let's hope so. Him on form at the tiny Auckland venue could be a six-fest !

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Ford
Paul Ford (aka Paul Holden) is a co-founder of the beloved Beige Brigade, the patriotic and long suffering Kiwi supporters' cult that is a bastion of things brown, tan, tongue-in-cheek and tenuously cricket-related. Paul lives in Wellington, somewhere between the Basin Reserve and Karori Park, and his favourite shot is the front-foot pull. @beigebrigade

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