Gayle says he has not made a decision to retire just yet, but the ‘end is coming’
Abu Dhabi: Iconic West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle has clarified that he had not made a decision to retire after the team played its last fixture of the ICC T20 World Cup here, but added that the end of his international career was coming.
Speaking ahead of the game against Australia, which the two-time T20 World Cup champions lost by eight wickets on Saturday, Gayle had dropped hints that this could be his last game for the country, saying “I’m semi-retired. I’m one away.”
He was applauded onto the field by teammates when he went out to open the batting and saluted the ground after his dismissal, proceeding to throw the gloves into the crowd. Alongside the retiring Dwanye Bravo, he was given a guard of honour on his way off the field at the end of the match.
When the attacking batter, who turned 42 in September, raised his bat to the crowd and soaked in the well-earned admiration, it suggested this was his farewell match.
But in an interview on the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) post-match Facebook show, Gayle clarified he had not made a decision to retire just yet.
“I was just having some fun. Put everything that happened aside. I was just interacting with the fans in the stand and just having some fun seeing as it’s going to be my last World Cup game,” said Gayle.
Asked to clarify his comments he made before the match, Gayle said, “I’d love to play one more World Cup. But I don’t think they will allow me.
“It’s been a phenomenal career. I didn’t announce any retirement but they actually give me one game in Jamaica to go in front of my home crowd, then I can say ‘hey guys, thank you so much’. Let’s see. If not, I’ll announce it long time and then I’ll be joining DJ Bravo in the backend and say thanks to each and everyone but I can’t say that as yet.”
A veteran of 79 T20Is, 103 Tests and 301 ODIs, Gayle’s international career has spanned 22 years and three decades.
Often forgotten in the Gayle story are the upheavals he has had to overcome in his long journey, including a heart surgery in 2005 after he retired mid-innings in a Test against Australia.
“I’ve been through a lot of struggle. You mentioned the heart condition but I’ve had a phenomenal career. I want to give thanks to actually be standing here today, aged 42 still going strong. The career has been really great. I’ve had a bit of hiccups here and there. I’ve shed blood, I’ve shed tears in West Indies cricket, you name it, one leg, one hand, I’m still batting for West Indies.
“It was a pleasure always to represent West Indies, I’m very passionate about West Indies. It really hurts bad when we lose games and we don’t get the result and the fans so (much) more is very important to me because I’m an entertainer. When I don’t get the chance to entertain them it really hurt me a lot. You might not that see that expression, I might not show those sort of emotions, but I’m gutted inside for the fans, and especially for this World Cup as well.”
In the run-up to the T20 World Cup here, the ‘Universe Boss’ has been dealing with the trauma of a sick father.
“Most people didn’t even know since the first game of the World Cup my dad has been ill so I have to rush back to Jamaica tonight (Saturday night), see what the doctors have to say about him. He’s batting well, he’s 91 years old, but he’s been struggling a bit. I have to go back home.
“Sometimes as a player we play through a lot of things and we don’t really express these things. We’re here to do a job. Those are the behind the scenes, what you have to deal with as a player and then come and perform,” said Gayle.
Gayle also delved into the amount of hard work that goes on behind the scenes.
“I’m a very determined person. I work hard. A lot of people don’t see the hard work, but I work hard in silence. I’m a talent and I use it wisely. I grew up from nothing to something. I didn’t have anything; I didn’t have the luxury when I was growing up so I used those things to motivate me as well. Start my career, ‘Mum I’ll get you a house’, when I make the first money, I’ll buy a car. Those are the things that keep you going. With the stability and the mental strength I have, that carried me right through 20-odd years of playing for the West Indies and playing around the world as well.
“At no time I felt like I’ll actually reach the bar, that I’m bigger or better than anyone else. I was very humble with it as well. I just give thanks to the almighty to actually be standing here telling you all these things.”
Whenever Gayle decides to call it a day, he will leave a T20 legacy, unparalleled in the history of the shortest version of the game. He excelled in Test cricket as well, making 7214 runs at 42.18 with 15 centuries and a high score of 333.
In One-day Internationals, he made more than 10,000 runs at 37.83, with his high score of 215 coming at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. However, it will likely be his impact on the sport’s newest international format that he is most remembered for.
A member of the side that won the 2012 and 2016 editions of the ICC T20 World Cup, Gayle was the first player to score a century in the format at the international level, doing so in the first-ever T20 World Cup match. He has also been a dominant force in franchise leagues around the world, scoring more T20 runs than anyone else (14,321) and hitting a record 22 T20 centuries, 14 more than any other player.