In the history of sports, there are feats and moments of heroics which are talked about for eternity and are unforgettable. The 30-ball 100 by Chris Gayle on April 23, 2013 is one such feat which will go down in the history books as a knock which mesmerised everyone including the man himself who could not help gushing – “I am at loss of words myself. It was a good wicket and I started really well. It is just one of those when you hit the ball it stays hit. Everything was coming out of the middle of the bat,” Yes, it is true – no words are enough to describe his batting – scintillating, brilliant, dazzling, stunning, and incredible – one can just go on and on. The Jamaican eclipsed Andrew Symonds 34-ball 100 record along the way and also Yusuf Pathan’s quickest century in IPL which was achieved in 37 balls. His strike-rate at the end of the innings was a staggering 265.15.
Needless to say that his 100 is the fastest ever century in all formats – T20Is, ODIs and Test cricket – domestic and international. No wonder he is regarded as the one of the most dangerous batsman in the T20 format. And also needless to say, his deed is right up there among the all time great moments cutting across sporting arena including Mike Tyson’s eight-second knockout at 1982 junior Olympics and Usain Bolt’s 9.63 seconds in 100 metres sprint in 2012 Olympics.
The Gayle ‘storm’ happened in the sixth edition of IPL in Chinnaswamy stadium in Bangalore in the match between Royal Challengers and Pune Warriors India. Watching Gayle hit those sixes one could not help but feel sorry for the Pune bowlers. The likes of Aaron Finch, Ashok Dinda, Mitchell Marsh and Ali Murtaza will not forget this match for a very long time. In fact Finch who was the captain and who bowled just one over in the match must be regretting his decision as he went for four sixes and a four in the over and was smashed for 29 runs. The bowlers had no clue as to what had hit them and at the end of it must be desperately wanting the Royals innings to get over. A placard from a spectator at the stadium put it aptly – “Gayle bats - fielders become spectators and spectators become fielders”.
Gayle has always been a hit with the T20 format of the game and has been Royal`s blue eyed boy and also plays for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash League. In fact some would say that IPL or rather the T20 version of the game and the West Indian batsmen are synonymous with each other, even though, ironically, he went unsold at the auction in the 4th edition of IPL and had joined RCB as a replacement for Dirk Nannes. He topped the run-charts in the 2011 season and subsequently Royal Challengers retained him for the next two IPL seasons.
He has also been a successful player for West Indies - he is one of only four players to have scored two triple centuries at Test level and was an integral member of the team which won the fourth edition of World T20 Cup in October last year in Colombo - 33 years after the West Indians won their last World Cup trophy.
However, he has also had a tumultuous relationship with his own board and was banned to play for the Caribbean over the issue of sponsorship but made peace with the West Indies Cricket Board in July last year and returned to the team after more than 18 months in the Test series against New Zealand.
Many had accused Gayle of putting club before country then and in fact he had also said on record that he was more liked and respected by the his team in India then by his own country’s board. He was heavily criticised in early 2009 during West Indies` tour of England, when he had commented that he did not want to captain the side anymore because of the pressures involved. He had also said that he “wouldn`t be so sad” if Test cricket was superseded by Twenty20 cricket in the future. But all that is passé now and things seem to have fallen in place for the man whom people may not get tired of talking about for a long time to come.
As is obvious, tributes poured in for the man of the moment from all quarters. India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni wrote – “Life is all about taking the right decision. Seeing Gayle bat today I think I took the right decision of being a wicket keeper.” And Australian Dean Jones said – “Pune wanted to declare the bowling after Gayle got to his 100! Mercy rule should be evoked!”
It can be safely said that the record by Christopher Henry Gayle may not be broken for a long time to come and those who had come to watch the historic match between Pune and RCB got more than their money’s worth. April 23, 2013 – a day when the world bowed in front of the man from Jamaica and as was rightly tweeted by South Africa’s fast bowler Dale Steyn – “WOW! Take a bow Mr Gayle.”