West Indies v South Africa, 2nd Test, St Kitts, 2nd day June 20, 2010

End of the line for Chris Gayle

The time has come for the selectors to seek someone else to try to lift players out of their insecurity
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The theme of despair running through West Indies cricket for a decade and more has never been more blatant than in the current series against South Africa. It was increasingly so as the opposing batsmen gathered complimentary runs in the second Test at Warner Park on Friday and yesterday, three of them hundreds.

In the preceding five ODIs and the first Test, West Indies' batting lacked resolve and cricketing common sense (to use the phrase of coach Ottis Gibson). It will again be under pressure to survive against the weight of South Africa's mammoth total of 543 for six declared, the sixth over 500 in the West Indies' last 12 Tests. The bowling, further weakened by the unfitness of its fastest men, has been ineffective. When chances were offered as the ruthless South Africans built their strong foundation on Friday, they slipped through inattentive fingers. If not as many as the six put down in England's first innings at Kensington Oval last season or the same number fluffed in a single session at Lord's two months later, the three missed on the opening day on Friday were similarly debilitating. And, as usual, the overall fielding has been at a standard not expected even at the junior level.

Above all, the whole operation has been without direction.

When Graeme Smith won the toss on Friday, Chris Gayle immediately announced his disappointment that he would be kept in the field for a day or more on a pitch he described as 'a road'. He was simply resigned to his fate. In effect, he conceded the match was beyond West Indies before a ball was bowled. It was not a message his players, already short of self-belief, needed to hear.

The captain has never been one to exert unnecessary energy in the field. His movements befit his description of himself as the coolest dude in cricket. Now, reportedly carrying a strained groin, he was virtually motionless either at slip or short midwicket. His injury presumably prevented him from delivering a single over. He looked every bit the reluctant captain he declared himself to be in England last year. Gayle made bowling changes as if by rote. Even with the total passing 400 with only the three wickets down, he employed two short legs for his new offspinner Shane Shillingford. The Dominican has fit effortlessly into his role on his late entrance into Test cricket and responded manfully to his demands. But his figures were unflattering and undeserved. Only time will tell what damage they might have inflicted on his morale.

Others could have lessened Shillingford's load. He was called on for 52 overs, an amount he had never previously experienced. Sulieman Benn had 20 fewer. Ravi Rampaul and Dwayne Bravo had 18 each. The leader's attitude inevitably permeates his players.

Since he became captain three years ago, Gayle's main attributes have been the support of his players and his ability to lead from the front with his batting. The latter was most evident in his unbeaten 165, batting through the innings, and his 70-ball 102 in successive innings that led to the revival in the final two Tests in Australia late last year after an innings loss in the first.

That confidence was missing here. Perhaps his spirit has been finally crushed by the results leading into this series (19 losses against seven wins, four over Zimbabwe, in ODIs and Twenty20 Internationals for the year) and the loss of so many key players through injury.

The time has come for the selectors to seek someone else to try to lift players out of their insecurity. Gayle might even make the decision for himself. The perennial question arises. If not Gayle, then who? And if Gayle is replaced, would he stay on as the vital opening batsman he has been throughout his tenure in charge?

Dwayne Bravo is the answer to the first question. He is vice-captain and, for all the unfulfillment of his all-round talent, it is difficult to imagine him allowing things to drift as they did at Warner Park. His energy and enthusiasm are the antithesis of Gayle's cool. In the second case, Gayle would obviously be missed but equally, for all the Twenty20 tournaments mushrooming all over the planet and his widely publicised comments on Test cricket last year, international cricket has become too much of his life and he might find it difficult to abandon it altogether.

A rotation of captains over a dozen years, eight in all from Richie Richardson to Gayle, has made no difference to West Indies' woes. It might not do now either but, on the evidence of the last couple of months and, more especially, the last couple of days, Gayle has come to the end of the line.

Tony Cozier has written about and commentated on cricket in the Caribbean for nearly 50 years

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • BULBIECRICKET on June 22, 2010, 5:48 GMT

    I HAVE ALWAYS RESPECT TONY'S COMMENTS AND IDEAS BUT THIS TIME I WILL HAVE TO DISAGREE. FIRST OF ALL W.I.P.A. AND THE W.I.C.B. WASTED TOO MANY TIME DISAGREEING, THE TIME SHOULD BE SPENT GROOMING THE PLAYERS WE HAVE. RAW TALENT LIKE WHAT WE HAD IN THE 60s, 70s, 80s AND PART OF THE 90s ARE NOT THERE ANYMORE. NEXT, MOST OF THE TEAM ARE UNDERPERFORMERS, THEY SHOULD LOSE THEIR PLACE IF THEY ARE NOT PERFORMING. IS RAMDIN THE ONLY KEEPER WE HAVE IN THE WHOLE CARIBBEAN? WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME HE SCORES A 50 ? IF GANGA IS THE BEST CAPTAIN IN THE CARIBBEAN, WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME HE WON A SERIES IN THE DOMESTIC COMPETITION? {TWENTY/TWENTY IS NOT CRICKET} WHY DID CHANDERS, AND SARWI GAVE UP THE CAPTAINCY? I THINK GAYLE SHOULD GIVE UP THE CAPTAINCY AND CONCENTRATE ON HIS BATTING AND HAVE ANY CAPTAIN FROM THE PAST CAPTAIN THIS UNDER-PERFORMING TEAM. IT WOULD NOT MAKE A DAM DIFFERENCE, THEY WOULD LOSE JUST THE SAME. W.I.C.B. PLEASE, PLEASE SELECT THE BEST ELEVEN.

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 23:17 GMT

    ganga for captain!way better than gayle!

  • Cricinfouser on June 20, 2010, 22:47 GMT

    With Gayle being one of the most senior players in the team and the West Indies Team being so short of experience;it's very difficult to see an easy change of captain now & with Bravo's recent performances leaving a lot to be desired.Gayle must be seriously spoken to by the West Indies Team Management and the Board re:his attitude towards captaincy and his lack of motivation to the younger players.Gayle can continue as Captain for a bit longer while Sarwan or Bravo understudy him as viceCaptain.

    There is no doubt quite a lot of talent around the West Indies;however,a great deal more will have to be done to harness our future prospects.The team needs inspirational leadership,assurance & confidence in itself to do well at the highest level of the game.Sadly,we don't seem to have too many people who are ready to accept the captaincy mantle presently.The selectors will have to be more astute with team composition;& focus more on a balanced team that will better represent the West Indes.

  • MightrySparrow on June 20, 2010, 22:45 GMT

    I agree with Tony that the end of the line of Chris Gayle as captain of the West Indies is (or should) near. His languid, nonchalant and cavalier attidude is not what is expected of a skipper, particularly in a time of uncetainty and low team confidence.

    A leader sets the tone and inspires his players to achieve beyond the call of duty. He does so even when the going is tough. This has clearly not been evident in CG.

    I have always thought that Gayle would best suit WI as a regular player batting lower down the order. He does not have the temperant or "smarts" to be an opening batsman, in my view. His impulsive flash-and-dash approach at the crease in kamikaze. As such, he has grossly under-achieved as a batsman.

    I trust, in the remaining part of his tenure as a West Indies player, he makes the necessary adjustment to improve the fortunes of both he and the West Indies.

  • bwalters on June 20, 2010, 22:16 GMT

    Give me a break...

    Is Gayle the best captain that I have ever seen? Not by a long shot. But the one true statement in this piece is that there is no-one else to replace him at present.

    Bravo? He's lucky he's even still in the Test side. Ramdin? Please. C'paul? Born to bat, but not to lead. Nash would be a VERY bold choice, and ill-advised IMO, but I wish his professionalism would wear off on the others.

    Bottom line is that, unless Gayle himself gives it up, he is captain for the immediate future.

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 22:14 GMT

    hey i'd prefer to have darren ganga in the side for his brains rather than gayle for his wishy washy batting!! then maybe west indies might have a chance of winning some matches for a change!

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 21:29 GMT

    Making Dwyane Bravo captain, is a decision you will have to wait and take. He has not proved anything other than his athletic abilities, in test and ODI format of the game (take a look at his batting and bowling averages). All you Gayle hatters remember, WICB was as usual in tatters when they gave him the captaincy. Also, Darren Bravo will also go for Mumbai Indians if he is given a choice between WI and MI (IMHO, he is also not a saint in that regard). But I think there is some light at the end of the road with the current crop of youngsters in the likes of Lendl Simmons, Darren Bravo, Adrian Bharat and the return of Samuels. They need consistent specialist batsmen who take Test cricket very serious (I think this is the root cause of all their problems). I think with their addition, batting MIGHT get better. But their bowling is pathetic that this crop cannot match Mervyn dillon's and Franklyn Rose's skills, let alone the greats.

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 21:20 GMT

    It's time to start grooming Sammy as the future West Indies captain. Dwayne Bravo is lucky to be still in the side and is only there because there's no one to challenge him.

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 21:04 GMT

    Sorry one an all D.Ganga is not available .As he is now in the employ of the Trinidad & Tobago Government .

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2010, 18:17 GMT

    To stamp out these inept performances, the set up of windies cricket should have a complete overhaul, scrap contracts for all and sundry and pay everyone according to their performance.

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