Russell the pivot for Jamaica, says Gayle
Chris Gayle, the captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, credited allrounder Andre Russell for being the pivotal factor in his side's title win on Saturday. Jamaica beat Guyana Amazon Warriors by seven wickets to win the inaugural Caribbean Premier League.
"Russell has been fantastic throughout," Gayle said. "He has been working on his striking and he comes through for us almost every time. I really hope he's in the next West Indies squad."
Gayle, who won the Man-of-the-Match award for his enterprising 47 not out off 48 balls, praised his team's commitment en route to the seven-wicket win in the final. After the match, Gayle revealed that Guyana's strength while chasing totals had prompted him to field after winning the toss.
"We are happy to actually be the champions. The management has been great and the players played their parts well. We're a professional unit and played some good cricket," Gayle said. "Guyana likes to chase so I think we wanted to restrict them early after winning the toss. We wanted to put them under early pressure. They have quality bowlers but our bowlers and batting maintained a high standard throughout and into the final. Sangakkara was very crucial as well as Danza (Hyatt) when we needed them to be and it's a great team effort."
Gayle also specified his plan of action in his innings: "I said I was going to bat all 20 overs. I rather stay there until the end. I did not plan to give it away today. I wanted that so badly and I had to stay there and guys rally around me and it was really, really good." Gayle was also adamant about how the team dispelled false truths about being a composition of Test players. "A lot of talks have been around from the start of the tournament when we picked our team. A lot of people said it was Test team but (we showed that) a Test team can actually win T20 tournaments as well.
There were rumours about Gayle's performances of late being attributed to weaker vision, but Gayle put those to rest: "People said my eyesight was gone as well and that I was not seeing the ball so a lot of things have been going on from a personal point of view so I am really happy that it is over now. I am finished with cricket for another three months," said Gayle.
Gayle was also happy that the victory had helped him address his critics: "I am happy I batted through the innings, and as captain, because this was the most important CPL match we played. I did want to silence my critics and I believe I did!"
Guyana skipper Ramnaresh Sarwan, said that changes to the batting line-up had not worked for the side in this game. Offspinner Sunil Narine was sent ahead of James Franklin and Sarwan with nearly five overs to go, and the move may have cost Guyana a few crucial runs towards the end.
"I take full responsibility. The (batting) adjustments didn't pay off. We couldn't get momentum and my mistakes cost us the game," Sarwan said. "I live by my decisions. We played well and I think we played the best cricket prior to this out of all the teams but while we worked really hard, we lost it at the end."
Sarwan praised seamer Krishmar Santokie for his performance during the tournament. Santokie finished the tournament with 16 wickets, the most for any bowler in the CPL and Curtly Ambrose, Guyana's assistant coach, said te seamer was "a key player that West Indies should focus on having in their team".
Renaldo Matadeen is a sportswriter and social media manager for ESPN Caribbean. He tweets here