Gayle ponders Test future
Chris Gayle has said that he doesn't want to captain West Indies for much longer because of the pressure the job entailed, and has hinted he may give up playing Test cricket to concentrate on a career in the Twenty20 format.
In a candid interview with The Guardian, Gayle also said that he "wouldn't be so sad" if Test cricket eventually gave way to the Twenty20 version and hit back at Andrew Strauss, who had criticised the West Indies captain for arriving from the IPL just two days before the start of the Lord's Test, asking the England captain to "stay out of [other] people's business".
"To be honest with you there's a possibility I might give it [captaincy] up - I will be giving it up shortly," Gayle told the Guardian. "It's definitely not something I'm looking to hang on to. I need some time for myself, to be honest with you, it's a lot of travelling. There's always something you have to go and do, you know, extra. Lunch or dinner, some other thing, there's always something for the captain. I'm not that type of person. I can't take on too much. So soon I will be handing over this captaincy. I [will] soon finish with it."
Gayle, who took over the captaincy from Ramnaresh Sarwan in 2007, said he was looking for potential successors. "We're still looking at quite a few," he said. "So we just have to wait and see when the selectors decide - or whosoever decides. Then I'm ready. The chairman pointed out to me they want me to actually be the captain for right now. We have to see how it goes. I said, 'Don't be too long, though'."
Speaking on the eve of the Chester-le-Street Test, Gayle claimed he had been misquoted in the interview, but reiterated his personal stance on the longer form of the game. "Test cricket is always going to be there, but they were my views on Test cricket as an individual," he told reporters at the Riverside. "I don't see myself playing Tests for any long period of time. I think Test cricket will always be there.
"Twenty20 has come onboard and it's made a huge impact on the world, it's brilliant, games have been sold out and it has taken the place by storm. I look at Test cricket differently, I don't see it as long term for me, just for me, I'm just speaking about myself."
Gayle took over the captaincy in the absence of Sarwan who was injured for the ODI series against England in 2007. The West Indies board initially rejected the selectors' move to appoint Gayle before reversing its decision. Gayle revealed that he was reluctant to take over the captaincy and had to be persuaded into the role. "At the time when I was asked I didn't want to be the captain," he said. "That's when it all started. We won the series and then I said to them, whenever Sarwan is fully fit, I am ready to step down. Maybe they saw something different, something totally different, and they asked me to be captain.
"I thought hard about it. I didn't want to be captain. I wanted to have more free time. I didn't want that added pressure at that particular time, but they actually insist, insist, insist, so I said OK. So I thought, just get on with it."
Gayle was then preferred as captain over Sarwan for the 2007-08 tour of South Africa. He resigned at a West Indies directors' meeting last July following the home series against Australia due to disagreements over selection but was persuaded to stay on by WICB president Julian Hunte.
Gayle was the subject of much criticism for extending his IPL stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders and joining his West Indies team-mates only 48 hours before the first Test at Lord's, a match which they lost inside three days. Strauss had said that "we wouldn't want our players to arrive two days before" a Test. He added that it was important for Test cricket to get the attention it deserved and that it shouldn't be devalued in "any way, shape or form".
Gayle, however, responded to Strauss's comments by saying that the matter "doesn't concern him". "Focus on his team, don't worry about West Indies, don't worry about me. Tell him don't sleep with Chris on his mind, tell him get Chris off his mind," Gayle said.
While Gayle said he wouldn't be worried if the primacy of Test cricket were to be reduced, he said Strauss ought to be because the England captain may not be able to adapt to the shorter format. Strauss, who is England's Test and ODI captain, isn't part of the squad for the World Twenty20 in June.
"I wouldn't be so sad [about the demise of Test cricket]," Gayle said. "Some other players would be. Maybe Andrew Strauss would be sad. Maybe he will be sad if Test cricket dies and Twenty20 comes in. Because there is no way he can make the change. So tough luck. I like Twenty20. Who doesn't? Maybe a couple of the Englishmen wouldn't like to play Twenty20."
Responding to Gayle's criticism of his comments, Strauss said: "It's more his issue than anything to do with the England team to be honest. I certainly feel that Test cricket is the primary format of the game.
"I think the majority of the cricketers around the world feel that and certainly all the cricketers in the England team feel that as well. My view prior to the last Test match was, if that is the case, it needs to get the attention it deserves in terms of preparation and my views haven't changed on that..
"What does concern me is the future of the game of cricket and I believe very strongly Test cricket should continue to be the number one format of the game. It's the only game that really tests out your temperament, your technique, your hunger, your bravery, all those aspects of the game."