England v West Indies, 2nd npower Test, Durham May 13, 2009

Gayle ponders Test future

Cricinfo staff

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."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gilbert on May 14, 2009, 22:34 GMT

    What is wrong with you people? can someone been honest?Some westindies players have not been paid for more that 3 tours back,and now the have the chance to earn some money(IPL),and you sending them on tour that they were not suppose to go no. Non sense!! He prefer 20/20 thats is his choice, everyone have a choice.

  • Rizwan on May 14, 2009, 17:36 GMT

    Didn't expect this sort of comment from Gayle,international captain. Certainly he is not enjoying being in England .this is becoming a serious threat to test cricket Icc should do something in this regard. As far as gayle is concerned he had not set good example especially when his team is trailing in test series. This also reflect the state of cricket in west indies.

  • Simon on May 14, 2009, 13:43 GMT

    I really like Twenty20; it has brought a lot of new people to the game.

    But Test cricket is the ultimate challenge for players. Players will never learn the skills simply by playing the shorter forms.

    Are we going to end up with a Twenty20 roadshow, travelling the world playing in a different country every few weeks?

    Keep Test cricket and the 4 day game in the County Championship


  • Saad on May 14, 2009, 9:52 GMT

    The only reason why the Strauss defends Test cricket is because he knows england is pathetic in the other 2 forms.

  • Nahid on May 14, 2009, 8:54 GMT

    Professional cricketers need to exercise more control and diplomacy when representing their nations. Players, especially, need to consider the impacts of their conversations which maybe misconstrued. Gayle is a terrific twenty20, ODI and test player, and it is understandable given he is apparently closer to the "end" of his cricket career, he has developed a preference for one of the three formats.

    Honestly it is boring to watch twenty20 when innings collapse and most players barely score more than 30 runs. Most twenty20 scorecard resembles Bangladesh, Zimbabwe ODI innings against other full members.

    There is no doubt more and more players prefer the twenty20 format and rewards in today's packed international schedules where most players are living out of a suitcase and are more susceptible to injuries. However the blame shouldn't be directed at the players alone. The ICC, national boards, administrators are also responsible for protecting the sanctity of test and ODI cricket.

  • Arjuna on May 14, 2009, 7:27 GMT

    I agree with young Tom. I equate T20 to a hurried make out in the back seat of a car as apposed to Tests where the action is far far more holistic, utilizes far more skill than the ability to pray to God for one good over and makes you feel good for weeks on end. Those who wish to get a small spike of joy in a constant life of misery - sure go T20. The others, like my 45 year old Sri Lankan self, will stick to the tests and raise a pint of bitters to at least one young bloke whose got his priorities right. Cheers Tom!

  • Craig on May 14, 2009, 5:44 GMT

    Yeah, Strauss! Keep your own nose clean! Focus on your own performance and team. Fortunes changes extremely quickly when you let your guard down!

  • Varadhachari on May 14, 2009, 5:32 GMT

    It is not the question of whether Gayle is right or wrong.. Atleast, he came forward openly and said that he didnt relish playing Test cricket. It is quite obvious that Test cricket is losing its shine every where with the way tickets are being sold. Why blame Gayle for being after money??? Who does not want money in this world? When there is way to make money, every one will jump into it. Strauss is not a saint, true, he is incapable of playing in the shorter version. Hence he is showing is disappointment. The day will come soon when all players would be more interested in playing shorter version. There were days when Test cricket was played not over 5 days but over indefinite period and the things changed slowly. People criticizing Gayle are the ones who lost their opportunities to play shorter version and hence it is justified. Gayle expressed his individual opinion and he has the right to do so. If the WICB did not want him to be captain, let them change him. No harm. Kudos Gayle!

  • Allan on May 14, 2009, 4:53 GMT

    I'm sure Gayle didn't mean what he said about test cricket. He's probably frustrated with the state of WI cricket at the moment, especially after the glorious past. But his sentiments about Strauss needing to mind his own business is spot-on. Actually that sentiment applies to most English and Australian cricketers, coaches and staff who have a disgusting habit of sticking their noses into other peoples business, or making comments on the affairs of other teams. It's really quite pathetic. Go on Gayle! Tell 'em like it is! And when sub-continental teams, or even NZ or SA hit back at such disgusting tactics they are villanized by the English and OZ media, but I'd like to see them villanize Gayle. He too cool a dude!!

  • Tom on May 13, 2009, 22:42 GMT

    tests are the proper form of the game, 2020 is alright but gets a little bit boring when it is just 6 after 6. proper skill is being able to play 5 days on the trot, now that in my view is the game. if the west indian captain is more intrested money then it shows how the game is slipping away. i am 17 by the way and i would pick test cricket over 2020 any day, test cricket in my view is up there with the best sporting battle there is around.

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