Chris Gayle leads ‘Carribean Rhapsody’

Updated: Oct 13, 2012, 12:39 PM IST

Ankit Banerjee

Christopher Henry Gayle is truly the reason for the West Indian rhapsody; he has re-incarnated the game in the Caribbean. The term ‘rhapsody’ was specifically used to bring out the Caribbean flavor to the core (an episodic instrumental composition, a regular with the laid back West Indians). An Indian news channel showed how rhapsody was being played in full throttle in Port-of-Spain, once Sammy lifted the marvellous gem. That surely reminded us of the tales we had heard about the glorious 70’s of West Indian cricket and rhapsody music.

Collosal Gayle is someone who in real terms has redefined cricket. His monstrous blows would surely give Geoffrey Boycott fodder to rethink about his theories on cricket. Gayle is surely in a planet of his own where he commands, rules and punishes with the furniture in his hand. The satanic monster for bowlers is also an entertainer par excellence. At times it feels that his hitting is even cherished by his fiercest opponents. When Gayle is having a good day, there is no point in setting a field. He will not hit fours and disturb the fielders but as usual keep disappearing balls out of the ground. That is “Mighty Gayle” for you. Gayle`s free-stroking, aggressive style is best suited for the shortest version of the game. His pugnacious approach has become a weapon in its own right, in what`s otherwise been a lean era for Caribbean cricket.

This tallismanic swashbuckling Jamaican has been the most influential individual in their success at the ‘Emerald Isle’ nation. His 75 not out against the Aussies in the semis of ICC World T20 was breathtaking to say the least, because the maturity displayed by Gayle was commendable. Such a scenario had seemed remote when West Indies made a sedate start on a fair surface. Gayle was starved of strike early and later battled an apparent muscle strain. The 33-year-old began carefully, wary of the swing by Mitchell Starc, and watched from the other end as Johnson Charles heaved, without any foot movement and edged one behind. Gayle then took charge of the proceedings. He mixed caution with aggression to perfection, and that is exactly what stood out. Even though he was off-strike for most of the time, he didn’t look in any discomfort. He just wanted to be there at the crease knowing that he could score boundaries at will later in the innings. This is something Virender Sehwag should pay heed to. Having talent is one, but without intent, hard work and determination it is of zilch use.

In the past West Indies cricket has always been associated with a lot of fun and flair. Caribbean cricket has always been appreciated for the same reasons that our predecessors hailed Brazilian soccer for. After the departure of the Clive Lloyds, the Vivian Richards, and the legendary four-man pace battery, West Indian cricket lost it’s dominance in world cricket.

None since the Bradman era had built massive scores as often and as fast as ‘The great Lara’ in his pomp. The Trinidadian’s stance was thrilling , the bat raised high in the air, the weight poised on a bent front knee, the eyes suffering a gravitational pull, and the release of the wood. More often than not the ball whistled past the fielders, screaming it’s way towards the ropes. But there are always two sides to the coin, though he was a legend in his own right, but still couldn’t inspire the Windies’ to an ICC coveted trophy. Hence illuminating the fact that, it is a 11-man show.

The Caribbean nation still kept throwing up big players like Richardson, Hooper, Chanderpaul, Ambrose, Walsh etc, but the sole problem was that they did not gel well as a unit like France,in the 2002 Football World Cup. We always felt dejected when they underperformed, making it a habit.

Gayle`s career has been that of a rebel, but in this tournament his desire to contribute to his team`s success has rarely been stronger. He met Mitchell Starc, Australia`s dangerman, with respect, unlike his patent marauder ways. His intent from the outset was to try and make himself count.

Come 2012 and West Indies are T20 World Champions. This is possibly the first time the world has ever seen so many power hitters in one single team with the likes of Gayle, Samuels, Pollard, Dwayne Smith, Andre Russel, Bravo and Sammy in the mix. Cricketing pundits had already tagged West Indies as hot contenders, pre-event. But we always knew that West Indies can be seriously unpredictable. But they made all of us wonder, and rethink our thoughts about them. The Jamaican played the most important role in their triumph. Gayle`s ‘Gangnam’ style dance became the theme of West Indian campaign, and we were thrilled to see them do that and enjoy their success.

This tournament has been superbly special for Gayle. He has shown that he has come of age. His breathtaking style of batting has surely set new heights in cricket. The ease with which he clears the ropes shows the amount of power he generates. Xavier Doherty can describe his brutality to the core.

The performance by the men from the ‘Caribbean Isle’ in the ‘Emerald Isle’, Gayle being the front man, has surely reignited “The World of Cricket”. So let`s just sit back and enjoy the hunters on their safari,to get `Gayled` to bits.