March 18, 2016

The Chris Gayle phenomenon

There are other big hitters in 20-over cricket, but Gayle's stats are far ahead of anyone else's in this format
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Chris Gayle has scored 3025 runs more than the batsman with the next-highest aggregate in T20 cricket since the start of 2011 © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

In September 2007, in the inaugural World T20 game between South Africa and West Indies, Chris Gayle announced to the world his love for the 20-over format, smashing 117 off 57 balls. Eight-and-a-half years later, in Mumbai against a helpless England attack, Gayle confirmed that neither his love for the format nor his abilities have diminished in the slightest, as he eased his way to a 47-ball century, three fewer than what he had required for his hundred in Johannesburg. While the rest of the team laboured to score 67 from 63 balls (strike rate 106), Gayle motored along to 100 from 48 (strike rate 208), and did it with an ease that suggested he wasn't even stretching himself to the limit.

When talking about batting in the 20-over format, there is Chris Gayle, and then there is everyone else. No other batsman has combined the ability to make huge scores consistently with the ability to get them quickly like Gayle has. Since 2011, he has scored 1000-plus T20 runs in every calendar year, and in all except one of those years he has averaged more than 45 at a 145-plus strike rate. He didn't start 2016 so well, scoring only 103 in five innings in the PSL after aggregating 150 from five in the Big Bash, but he has already started to atone for those failures, and looks primed for more runs through the World T20 and the IPL.

His numbers in T20 internationals have also got better in the last few years. Since the start of 2012, his T20I average has increased by ten runs, from 32.47 to 42.33, while the strike rate has remained the same. His striking power has only increased, as is evidenced by a better rate of balls per six, and nine 50-plus scores in 24 T20I innings since 2012 only indicates he has become even better with age.

Chris Gayle in T20s
Period Inngs Runs Average SR 100s/50s 4s/6s Balls/ 6
 Till Dec 2010  51  1379  29.97  134.79  1/ 8  134/ 74  13.82
 Jan 2011 onwards  185  7447  47.73  153.38  16/ 47  547/ 563  8.62
 Career  236  8826  43.69  150.15  17/ 55  681/ 637  9.23
Gayle's year-wise T20 stats since 2011
Year Inngs Runs Ave SR 100s/ 50s 4s/ 6s Balls/6
 year 2011  31  1497  57.57  174.67  4/ 10  112/ 116  7.39
 year 2012  38  1532  47.87  151.68  3/ 13  100/ 121  8.35
 year 2013  33  1344  49.77  149.66  3/ 7  98/ 100  8.98
 year 2014  36  1056  32.00  120.13  2/ 5  91/ 60  14.65
 year 2015  36  1665  59.46  164.52  3/ 10  123/ 135  7.50
 year 2016  11  353  35.30  177.38  1/ 2  23/ 31  6.42
Chris Gayle in T20Is
Period Inngs Runs Average SR 100s/50s 4s/6s Balls/ 6
 Till Dec 2011  20  617  32.47  144.49  1/ 5  57/ 34  12.56
 Jan 2012 onwards  24  899  42.33  146.45  1/ 8  70/ 64  9.48
 Career  44  1506  37.65  145.64  2/ 13  127/ 98  10.55

The table below shows how far ahead of everyone else Gayle is in T20s. His aggregate of 7447 is 3025 better than the second highest, his average is more than five runs better than the next best, with a 2500-run cut-off (Virat Kohli's 42.34 is next), while his balls per six is also the best with the same cut-off: Andre Russell is next on 8.83. In terms of strike rate, Russell (167.4) and Glenn Maxwell (155.08) are better than Gayle, but both average less than 25 - obviously their consistency and their run-scoring abilities suffer in their attempt to score quickly. AB de Villiers is the other batsman with a 150-plus strike rate (150.59), but even he averages only 32.25.

In fact, no other batsman - among the 53 who have scored 2500-plus runs during this period - has combined a 40-plus average with a 140-plus strike rate. David Warner (average 38.28, SR 141.09) and MS Dhoni (38.02, 140.28) come closest, while David Miller averages 36.91 at 138.71, and Brad Hodge has an average of 38.48 at a strike rate of 135.49. All these batsmen are fantastic T20 players, but none has mastered the format quite like Gayle has. Since the start of 2011, Gayle has scored 16 centuries; the next best is five, by Michael Klinger and Luke Wright.

Most T20 runs since Jan 2011
Player Inns Runs Ave SR 100 50 6s balls/6
 CH Gayle  185  7447  47.73  153.38  16  47  563  8.62
 DR Smith  166  4422  29.09  125.34  3  28  214  16.49
 KA Pollard  194  4369  34.13  148.45  0  22  275  10.70
 LJ Wright  155  4351  31.52  147.44  5  23  170  17.36
 Shoaib Malik  153  4192  37.09  122.93  0  27  120  28.42
 V Kohli  120  4107  42.34  129.19  0  33  125  25.43
 LMP Simmons  136  4107  33.12  116.34  1  34  167  21.14
 DA Miller  157  4024  36.91  138.71  1  21  171  16.96
 RN ten Doeschate  165  3880  29.61  138.76  1  20  179  15.62
 SK Raina  143  3841  32.27  138.06  2  19  143  19.45
 DA Warner  116  3828  38.28  141.09  4  33  163  16.64

In the Mumbai game against England, Gayle scored all of 14 runs in non-boundaries - the other 86 runs came through 11 sixes and five fours. The boundary percentage of 86 is the highest among the 20 centuries scored in T20Is; the next best is 83.76%, by South Africa's Richard Levi, when he scored an unbeaten 117 against New Zealand with 13 sixes and five fours. Gayle makes an appearance again at No. 5 with that 117 in the WT20 opener in 2007, an innings which included ten sixes and seven fours, and had 75% boundary runs.

In the unbeaten 100 against England, Gayle also had the unique distinction of getting all his runs in sixes, fours, or singles. All other 100-plus scores in T20Is have included at least one two or a three, apart from the singles, fours and sixes. Levi, in that unbeaten 117, had 17 singles and one two, apart from the fours and sixes, while McCullum, in his 116 against Australia in 2010, had 17 singles and a three, apart from eight sixes and 12 fours.

Highest % runs in boundaries in T20I hundreds
Player Runs BF 4s 6s SR Bound % Opposition Year
 Chris Gayle  100*  48  5  11  208.33  86.00  v England  2016
 Richard Levi  117*  51  5  13  229.41  83.76  v New Zealand  2012
 Brendon McCullum  116*  56  12  8  207.14  82.76  v Australia  2010
 Aaron Finch  156  63  11  14  247.61  82.05  v England  2013
 Chris Gayle  117  57  7  10  205.26  75.21  v South Africa  2007
 Tillakaratne Dilshan  104*  57  12  5  182.45  75.00  v Australia  2011
 Mohammad Shahzad  118*  67  10  8  176.11  74.58  v Zimbabwe  2016
 Rohit Sharma  106  66  12  5  160.60  73.58  v South Africa  2015
 Martin Guptill  101*  69  9  6  146.37  71.29  v South Africa  2012
 Richie Berrington  100  58  10  5  172.41  70.00  v Bangladesh  2012

Gayle's innings in Mumbai was typical of the way he generally bats in T20s: in all games in that format since the start of 2011, Gayle has scored almost 75% of his runs in fours and sixes, easily the highest among the 38 batsmen who have scored at least 2500 runs. The next best is more than four percentage points lower, while there are several others bunched around the mid to late 60s. Gayle his hit ten or more sixes in a T20 innings on 12 occasions; no other batsman has achieved this more than twice. In fact, the total such instances in all T20s are only 40, of which Gayle has 12.

His dot-ball percentage, on the other hand, is among the highest, which isn't surprising either. Among these 38 batsmen, only six batsmen have a higher dot percentage - Dwayne Smith, Lendl Simmons, Michael Lumb, Mohammad Hafeez, Ahmed Shehzad and Shane Watson.

Highest % runs in boundaries in T20s since Jan 2011* (Min 2500 runs)
Batsman Inns Runs SR Ave Dot % Boundary %
 Chris Gayle  183  7413  153.83  49.42  42.21  74.90
 Richard Levi  128  3476  143.00  29.21  41.73  70.66
 Dwayne Smith  151  3981  123.83  29.27  47.62  68.63
 Shane Watson  119  3429  135.83  31.17  42.53  67.13
 Brendon McCullum  109  3223  136.33  32.23  40.82  66.15
 Michael Lumb  104  2573  134.00  25.98  44.92  66.07
 Glenn Maxwell  134  2787  155.33  23.03  35.25  65.66
 Luke Wright  129  3719  147.83  32.91  35.94  65.34
 Quinton de Kock  95  2921  134.83  33.96  40.62  65.32
 Kieron Pollard  181  4036  146.67  34.20  36.24  64.42

Gayle's power hitting is the most prominent aspect of his batting, but what's also impressive is the way he plans his innings and often bats deep into the innings when he gets starts. His averages at each of the three stages of a T20 innings - the Powerplays, the middle overs and the slog - are superb, but he also builds up the tempo gradually, going at a strike rate of 137 in the Powerplays, before lifting it up to 163 in the middle overs and 220 at the slog.

Gayle, in various stages of a T20 inngs, since Jan 2011
Over range Average Strike rate
 First 6  45.24  137.00
 6.1 to 15.0  57.20  163.16
 Last 5  44.21  219.83

Gayle is a complete T20 batsman in terms of his scoring rates at various stages of an innings, and also in terms of his stats against different types of bowlers. Quality offspinners have troubled him - Harbhajan Singh has dismissed him four times in T20s conceding only 54 from 59 balls, Mohammad Hafeez has got him four times for 17 runs in 30 balls, while R Ashwin has dismissed him three times for 50 off 66 balls. Overall, though, his stats against different bowler types are pretty handy, with a particular preference for left-arm spin.

Gayle against different bowler types, in T20s since Jan 2011
Bowler type Average Strike rate
 Right-arm pace  46.47  149.83
 Left-arm pace  53.86  145.16
 Right-arm spin  43.09  145.00
 Left-arm spin  146.40  243.16

The one aspect of his T20 batting that isn't quite sparkling is his performances in tournament finals: in five such innings he has scored 61 runs at an average of 15.25 and a strike rate of 68.53. His best is an unbeaten 47 off 48 in the CPL final in 2013, but before that effort he had scored 3 off 16 in the 2012 World T20 final, 5 off 12 in the 2011 Champions League final, 0 off 3 in the 2011 IPL final, and 6 off 10 in the 2008 Stanford 20/20 final. Gayle would probably like nothing better than an opportunity to correct those numbers in a couple of weeks' time.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. Follow him on Twitter

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • o on March 22, 2016, 19:35 GMT

    They're all full-time T20 players so it's not a surprise, there's only about a half dozen or so who have been playing T20 in every league for the past 5 years and most of them are on there, only Hodge and Bravo are missing and that's because they don't always bat or come for the last couple of overs.

  • JAYRAJ on March 19, 2016, 7:15 GMT

    Gayle batted brilliantly,but the english bowling was toothless. I really doubt if Gayle will be able to repeat the feat against a bowling line up consisting bumrah and ashwin

  • shawn on March 18, 2016, 18:31 GMT

    @ANDY LUCIA: His country didn't let him down, Jamaica is always on his side. Its the WICB and WIPA to blame.

  •   Adi Jazz on March 18, 2016, 14:16 GMT

    He was dismal in the PSL, even Junaid Khan got him for a duck twice IIRC.

  • ChittoorRamanathan on March 18, 2016, 13:26 GMT

    Not many international players have scored even 563 runs in total. here is the player who has hit 563 sixes and a little lesser number of 4s. Phenomenal record. Very difficult we will get another player of his ilk at least in the next 20 years. Pathetic is, despite having him in its ranks, RCB is yet to lift IPL!! What a shame!!

  •   Andy Lucia on March 18, 2016, 11:11 GMT

    What a Fantastic Record. Pity his country let him down!

  • Saiful on March 18, 2016, 9:44 GMT

    He is a complete entertainment package in and out of the field.It's really great for us we have the opportunity of watching player like AB De Villiers and Chris Gayle live.

  •   Febin V Thomas on March 18, 2016, 9:39 GMT

    @BAUNDELE: Berrington is a Scotland player. Check out here. http://www.espncricinfo.com/scotland/content/player/25490.html

  • Vaishak on March 18, 2016, 9:26 GMT

    Noone better.Like a massive time bomb.The sort of guys who walk in with a cheer,walk out after the enemy is not just beaten,but demolished.The best bowlers demoralised.Like good ol Viv,Gilly and Sehwag.And a Gayle on song,what else do u need?

  • Abhishek on March 18, 2016, 8:25 GMT

    his resurrection happened only after he joined RCB. before that he was like any other t20 player. will be interesting to see his numbers before and after RCB.

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