ICC Champions Trophy 2013 June 1, 2013

I need some runs for West Indies - Gayle

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"There are new rules?" Chris Gayle asked genuinely, but in a playful tone, leaning back on one of the bottom-row seats below the dressing room at the SWALEC stadium in Cardiff. Wait, Gayle, one of the most senior players in cricket, is not aware of the new ODI rules that were rolled out at the start of 2013: not more than four fielders allowed outside the 30-yard circle at any stage of the innings, bowlers being permitted two bouncers in an over and the Powerplays to be completed by the 40th over. You wondered if he was toying with you just like he does with the bowlers when batting. "I have the book but I havent' read it as yet," Gayle confessed with a chuckle on a sunny Friday.

Unlike the India captain MS Dhoni, who said earlier in the week that the new ODI rules posed a big challenge, Gayle was more flexible. "They are trying to bring more excitement to the 50-over game based on what is happening in Twenty20. You just have to cope with it. It will take some time to make the necessary adjustment and once you adapt, hopefully the fans will gravitate back to the one-day format," Gayle said.

It is this relaxed attitude that makes Gayle such an instant attraction. You do not need to know him. If you can make him smile, Gayle will open up warmly. Spotting some grey hair in his thin beard, this reporter asked him if he was thinking too much. "Like a bird," Gayle burst out laughing. "That is a good sign or bad sign, I don't know. I hope it is for a good cause."

Yet, Gayle has always been a thinking batsman. He is never expansive in his thoughts, but he is clear about his own game. Importantly, he understands his goals and has never taken his position in the West Indies team for granted. For instance, he admitted he had not performed consistently in the last few ODI series he played for West Indies. After his 125 at home in Jamaica in the second ODI of the series against New Zealand, Gayle has not been able to score a fifty in his last 11 ODI matches across three series. "Get some runs. Get some runs. I need some runs for West Indies. The last couple of games I haven't done well for my team. Hopefully this tournament can be turning point for me," Gayle said.

At the same time, he wasn't putting too much pressure on himself. "Once the mental aspect is ready, the entire body will be ready," Gayle said, after his first training session for the Champions Trophy. He joined the squad only on Friday morning, as he had to attend to opening an academy for kids in London the day before.

Despite his lean form for West Indies in recent times, Gayle is coming into the Champions Trophy on another high in the IPL, where he finished as the tournament's second-highest run-maker, including a record-breaking 175 not out. Dwayne Bravo, who was appointed West Indies ODI captain , called Gayle the "most dangerous batsman". "I'll take that any day," Gayle said of the compliment, as long as he could live up to the expectations of his team. "Everybody is looking forward to great things. I am trying to keep it simple and I am going to try my best out there and give the team what is required of me and hopefully that will pay off."

Does it then add pressure that fans always expect him to score a boundary off every ball? "Even when I scored 175 in the IPL, people were looking forward to 200. In a Twenty20 game the expectations from the fans is huge. We just have to take it in our stride and take it one step at a time and try and put your best foot forward every time. It is important to entertain the fan but what is more important is what the team requires at the particular moment and you have to make the necessary adjustment."

His main responsibility would be to provide the team with a good start this tournament. "Trying to give the team a good start especially in these conditions is going to be key for us. Bat as many overs as possible, try and be there for long. I know once I am there, runs will come."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sramesh_74 on June 3, 2013, 5:27 GMT

    Gayle is a massive hit in India especially in Bangalore. My kids are die hard fans of Gayle and RCB. Their thoughts are very clear when India play the Windies...A big hundred from Gayle and an Indian win!!

  • satishchandar on June 3, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster : Whilst other differ from you, i am with you just for one beautiful line "isn't the basic law of cricket about hitting the cricket ball to score runs ? " Yes absolutely.. That is why the winners are decided on the basis of runs scored with wickets taken as the secondary preference in ODI/T20 formats.. It is not the team that picks more wickets who wins or the team that plays the maximum balls win.. It is the team that scores more runs that win..

    For folks arguing that Indian pitches are flat, prepare dustbowls in your own nation to add spice to the game.. After all, fast bowling is not the ONLY art in cricket.. Spin is also a more entertaining art in bowling department.. Frankly, watching spin gives more thrill than watching pace and bounce.. Opinions differ like the conditions differ..

  • b_cricketer on June 2, 2013, 17:55 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster : Mate, Don't even begin to compare Cricket with Baseball. May look similar to an ignorant/innocent bystander, but it's completely different.

  • b_cricketer on June 2, 2013, 17:53 GMT

    @cpt.Meanster : The basic law of cricket is hitting the ball to score runs? Lol, you make me laugh. Kindly stick to your 'great game' of Baseball and stop trying to act like an arrogant oversmart indian teenager :)

  • BDforeverr on June 1, 2013, 21:03 GMT

    Bangladesh is developing an opener like Gayle. It will be mystery man who will be shown only in 2015 Aus world cup. Till then enjoy all cricket nations...

  • JG2704 on June 1, 2013, 20:35 GMT

    Must have been very much an anti climax not seeing Gayle or Pollard in action

  • JG2704 on June 1, 2013, 20:31 GMT

    @Cpt.Meanster on (June 1, 2013, 19:02 GMT) Which is why India are Asia cup holders right? Not that this thread has anything to do with India - they rarely do.

  • gsingh7 on June 1, 2013, 20:24 GMT

    wi are poor 50 over team just making up numbers , i bet they will lose all 3 and india will take a bonus point while defeating wi comprehensively, australia - india wud be the finals.

  • Cpt.Meanster on June 1, 2013, 19:14 GMT

    @Cobra0077: Congratulations on having your post nominated as the featured comment. Coming to the point, isn't the basic law of cricket about hitting the cricket ball to score runs ? So what's the big deal about bowlers getting a raw deal and all that stuff. If the bowlers are really that good, then they should get the batter out without crying like children. Or, make cricket like baseball, don't let the ball hit the ground. Trick the batsmen in the air which the English public adores (hint: swing bowling). That is why baseball is so flawless, the rules are simple, no pitch conditions to worry about. It's all about raw talent and skill which is always the American way. Cricket needs to learn a lot from that great sport. I am tired about all this talk about pitches being flat, especially in India. Indian pitches will NEVER have pace and bounce, live with it folks. The climate in India doesn't allow for green tops. If bowlers don't like that, then don't come to India.

  • Cpt.Meanster on June 1, 2013, 19:07 GMT

    It is funny to read some of the half-baked comments here with regards to how poor India, Pakistan and Wi are when the English, Australian and SA teams are equally unpredictable. Okay, for argument sake, let's leave SA out of this whole mess because I feel they are the ONE team who play equally good in all conditions except for choking when it really matters of course. But look at England and Australia who are both in 'Ashes land' at this moment. It begs the question why the ICC must have this competition in the first place. Then again, cricket is a funny game and all this can only happen here. Honestly, both the English and Australian ODI teams are a JOKE ! Honestly, neither of them are favourites for winning this tournament. Like in 2004, WI could win it or NZ could. Heck, even one of the Asian teams could win it. So you see, all start at nil points.