Sri Lanka v West Indies, ICC World T20, 2nd semi-final, The Oval June 19, 2009

End of the run for Gayle show


Chris Gayle's West Indians have finally left the building. Their chaotic campaign ranks second only to Pakistan's in terms of its unpredictability, but for the English audiences who have charted their form and performances ever since the Caribbean Test series in February, the manner of their parting was fitting in the extreme. Gayle is the rock upon which their fortunes, good and bad, have been built. Today he remained standing while his team was swept away.

"This is a real farewell to Chris Gayle … full house!" said the man himself, as he strode into his last press conference before the team's departure for the Caribbean. His mood in defeat was jovial but resigned, after an extraordinary match in which only three players turned up for duty. Unfortunately for West Indies, two of those were Sri Lankan - Tillakaratne Dilshan with the bat, and Angelo Mathews with the ball. "They say any one particular person can win a game of Twenty20," said Gayle, "but it's not a one-man game to be honest with you."

He left the stage as he entered it, the undefeated heavyweight of West Indies cricket, a player whose performances are determined less by form than by mood. From his Stanford-seizing onslaught in November, through to the series-seizing centuries at Jamaica and Trinidad that bookended West Indies' Test triumph over England, and on through to his unforgettable obliteration of Australia on this very ground last week, what Gayle has wanted, he has gone out to get.

Conversely, there have been occasions - particularly during the board dispute that overshadowed the Caribbean one-day series, and then throughout a sulky and terrible Test series in England - that Gayle has seemingly not cared a jot about his or his side's performance. Today, however, was the moment even he could not get what he wanted just by doing what he does best. The evisceration of West Indies' top order in that stunning opening over from Mathews put paid to that.

"I'm disappointed with the way the game went, actually," he said. "It was a bit one-sided, but what can I do about it? Go ask Mummadaddy. We were expecting him to open the bowling, but I didn't expect him to pick up three wickets. We were always on the back foot after that, and unable to capitalise on those [first] six overs. But I say to my fans, we float like a butterfly and we'll still sting like the bees. We'll be back, still stinging… bzzzt!"

West Indies, in fact, will be back in action next week, pitched into a home one-day series against an Indian team that had much less chance of looking on the bright side of their elimination from this tournament. Like England - the side West Indies themselves beat on this ground earlier in the week - the positives were plentiful, simply because the expectations at the start of the competition had been so low.

Fidel Edwards, the one player who could have rattled the equilibrium of the ice-cool Dilshan, failed a fitness test on his sore back, and after three ducks in a row for Andre Fletcher, his replacement at the top of the order, Xavier Marshall, marked his call-up with a first-ball duck

"We did well to reach the semi-final and we're proud," said Gayle. "I can't fault the guys for reaching the semi-final. We haven't restored the honour of West Indies cricket, but there's a better smile on the West Indian fans' faces.

"But trust me, let me tell you this, they are very hard to please. The only thing they take is victory, but they now have some better understanding of our situation. They'll have a better smile after reaching the semi-final. It's tough luck to the fans, but keep supporting, and stop cursing."

Plans just didn't fall into place for West Indies in this game. Fidel Edwards, the one player who could have rattled the equilibrium of the ice-cool Dilshan, failed a fitness test on his sore back, and after three ducks in a row for Andre Fletcher, his replacement at the top of the order, Xavier Marshall, marked his call-up with a first-ball duck. Lendl Simmons and Dwayne Bravo, Gayle's likeliest foils in a run-chase lasted four balls between them.

Ultimately, the gulf between the teams was yawning. But Gayle was phlegmatic about the result, and hoped that, with the next Twenty20 tournament coming up on home soil, the lessons would be absorbed and remembered.

"Overall you're going to be disappointed, but you can't point fingers," said Gayle. "I'm happy for them to use this as a learning experience, because no doubt, with the next Twenty20 in the Caribbean, it'll good for us to use this as a good learning experience, and we hope to capitalise on our home advantage."

For the time being, Gayle is just content to cut his losses and get back home at the end of an arduous and eventful journey. When asked where his money would be for the final, he shot back: "I don't have any money, I'm broke to be honest with you!" - a line that brought down the house. Either Shah Rukh Khan has yet to cough up, or Stanford's cheque has bounced. Or both. Either way, even though he was on the money himself today, the odds were stacked against West Indies' progression.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Hafiz on June 22, 2009, 4:08 GMT

    .......I am from India...but a GREAT supporter of WestIndies, Lara and Gayle.

    I agree with many above.

    If any of the following guyz can be played, PLEASE PLAY THEM:

    1) Dwayne Smith 2) Marlon Samuels 3) Jermaine Lawson 4) Darren Sammy 5) Ardian Bharath 6) Brendon Nash

    May west indies come back as a STRONG Force, as in the 70s/80s

  • ziauddin on June 20, 2009, 10:40 GMT

    left out a.Fletcher,x.marshal,k.pollard.bring back Dwayne smith,Devon smith,Brendon Nash,fiedel Edwards ,Lionel baker.continue the captaincy of Gayle.samuels was a huge my eye,j j c Lawson was the best after Walsh-Ambrose.feeling sorry for Gayle.

  • Azweer on June 20, 2009, 10:29 GMT

    I feel Windies is always a pitiest side... Previously Carl hooper, then Lara, then Chandrapaul, Sarwan n now gayle.. only one of them will shine in a match.. we shud give a standing avation for those heroes..

  • ashley on June 20, 2009, 10:02 GMT

    Side by side with Chris Cayle, West indies, Sri Lanka or even Pakistan, how dull does the Australian team look right now. It has nobody with any style, flair or match winning power the way these teams do. No Gilchrist, Warne, Symmonds, Hodge or even Hughes can make the team somehow. I say good luck to the teams that play with some style and entertainment value. I love Australian cricket but they play like a bunch of orthodox cardboard cut-out robots at the moment, nobody can swing or spin the ball or play a shot that been dictated from a book. Where have all the Aussie characters gone (and i don't mean another bleached hair toss with a manicure). Gayle can join us, outspoken, powerful, outrageously talented, match winner, great to watch, no team meetings.

  • Chamira on June 20, 2009, 9:52 GMT

    the coolest cricket team on da planet; WEST INDIES .without them every cricket match will be as boring as Ashes

  • Ross on June 20, 2009, 9:22 GMT

    I am an Indian but true supporter of westindies I beg once again bring back MARLON SAMUELS . please ...GAYLE .I know ur the man u yourself told that u have come across many difficult times in your life please for once for your supporter please fight for MARLON SAMUEL westindies needs him..u cant depent on guys like Pollard,flecter,marshall..they cant ever keep the strike rotating...bring true Westindies back, bring samuels back.

  • Lanka on June 20, 2009, 8:09 GMT

    Gayle is NO Sobers or Sanath to turn a game single-handed.

    His form has always been prickly and this result in the semis was a foregone conclusion.

    I wish the ageless Sanath TERROR Jayasuriya rises to the occasion and the Lankan Lions maul Pakistanis and lift the 20-20 WC. This would be a fitting tribute for a team that has undergone a traumatic experience in Lahore in March 09.

    Long live Sanath and Sri Lankan cricket.

    Lanka Lover (VSK Iyer) Dammam Saudi Arabia

  • Imran on June 20, 2009, 7:39 GMT

    I think WI Cricket board must realize that they have to hunt for more talent in this format as since 20 / 20 cricket they must give rest to Chander paul and sarwan as they are not capable of playing this format.. I am not saying that they both are not good batsmen but this format need young talent like bravo. I wish for Srilanka to come into final but i am a big fan of chris gayle and when he is on the wicket my 100% support is for WI. I feel sorry for Gayle and wish him best of luck for his future!!!

  • Peter on June 20, 2009, 6:57 GMT

    "His mood in defeat was jovial but resigned, after an extraordinary match in which only three players turned up for duty."

    Uh, Ajantha Mendis? 4-0-9-2 really wets the bed in Twenty20 cricket does it?

  • p on June 20, 2009, 6:46 GMT

    GAYLE ROCKS !!! How "uncool" would West Indies ,or indeed World cricket be without this guy?! To me Tendulkar is the Batting God... But Gayle's the God of Cool.

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