Chris Gayle not ready to go gently into that good night

Staff Writer Updated: 4 July, 2019, 11:57 AM IST


Plenty of excellent batsmen are playing their last Cricket World Cup.

Hashim Amla. Shikhar Dhawan. MS Dhoni. JP Duminy. Mohammad Hafeez. Shoaib Malik. Shaun Marsh. Shakib Al Hasan. Ross Taylor.

None, however, will be as missed as Chris Gayle.

Some of those others have more trophies, some more runs, even more wickets, and some have more match-winning knocks, but none make a stadium shake like Gayle.

When Gayle appears in his 35th and last World Cup match on Thursday in Leeds, for West Indies against Afghanistan, cricket followers won't be watching to see him nudge the ball around to keep the fielders busy. They want to see the self-proclaimed great live up to his self-styled hype and hit sixes. Smear the bowlers to every boundary, and soaring over those, too. They want to see balls rainbowing into stands of dancing and singing fans.

Nobody hits sixes like Gayle. He can make it look he's chipping from just off the green. He doesn't even have to middle the ball with his planks of willow stamped with "The Boss" on them. They still fly far.

In one of his great one-day international innings, a 42-ball 80 in 2009 at Kensington Oval, one of his sixes went up the pavilion stairs and into the England changing room. Fetch that.

Back in Bridgetown again, against England again, in February, he launched the white ball out of the stadium five times, all of them last seen heading toward the docks. In the second match, also at Kensington Oval, another six cleared the roof from a mere paddle sweep of Moeen Ali. At Gros Islet, he sent a Chris Woakes delivery on to the pavilion roof. He splattered a record 39 sixes in that series, averaged 106, and ensured he was coming to England for a fifth World Cup.

To hit 39 at age 39 made him happy, and not surprised. Hitting sixes, he said at the time, "just comes naturally."

"If it's one thing about me, my mindset is that even when I'm 60 I still think I can do it. I feel that when I reach age 60, I can still go up against the best bowlers in the world and still score runs. That's how I feel. That mindset will never change; it's just the body that is the worrying part for me."

In the history of ODIs, only the retired Shahid Afridi has more sixes, 351 to Gayle's 326. Then again, Afridi played 101 more matches, and he didn't face the new ball and fresh bowlers like Gayle has. Nobody else active is even close to them. Rohit Sharma has 230 sixes, Eoin Morgan 211, Jos Buttler 125.

Gayle has a dozen sixes at this World Cup, his second best tally. He hit 16 alone in one match at the 2015 World Cup, in a then-record 215 score against Zimbabwe in Canberra.

He started here in style with consecutive sixes back over pacer Hasan Ali's head in a 34-ball 50 against Pakistan.

Gayle was unlucky against Australia, being limited to 21 runs. He creamed Pat Cummins for three consecutive boundaries, then was lbw to Mitchell Starc. But it should have been a free hit. Starc no-balled the delivery beforehand but it was missed.

Gayle sent a six back over Woakes and made Jofra Archer get out of the way in 36 against England.

Bangladesh gave him the second duck of his World Cup career, 16 years after it gave him the first.

Then there was the New Zealand game at Old Trafford. He flicked consecutive sixes off Matt Henry, was dropped three times, then lashed consecutive sixes off Mitchell Santner 20 rows up into the stands. The party ended, until Carlos Brathwaite came alive, when Gayle was out trying to hit another six but top-edged a slower ball.

He added a couple more sixes in 35 against Sri Lanka, but this World Cup hasn't been vintage for him. Gayle has looked all of his 39 1/2 years on the slow, sticky pitches of England. The grey flecks in his dreadlocks and beard have looked greyer while he has dealt with back and groin issues. His showmanship while fielding has appeared to try and hide his inability to expertly cover his patch of grass.

West Indies accepted his cautious starts long ago, rightly believing he can quickly make up for the string of dot balls with power shots. He often appears rooted to the crease, hardly moving his feet, and yet the ball still finds itself buried in excited crowds. Two half-centuries in seven innings show he hasn't quite clicked like the rest of the batting lineup.

To hear his coaches and teammates, it doesn't affect him. He accepts his time is nearly up but lives in the present, sure he can smother any bowler. He's proud of his achievements — this year passing 10,000 ODI runs, and 1,000 in World Cups — and wants to make the crowd happy. The likes of captain Jason Holder, Evin Lewis, and Nicholas Pooran have praised his willingness to pass on advice, and the depth of it. They say his relaxed demeanor calms nerves in the changing room.

Venus Williams, who also happens to be 39, once said the joy of winning is fleeting, but addictive. She added she wouldn't forgive herself if she quit playing tennis while she had more left in her.

Back in February, Gayle said the ODI series against England was his last at home, and this World Cup would be his ODI swansong. But last week he changed his mind. He wants to play the three ODIs when India tour in August, and maybe a test match for the first time in five years. The second and last test just happens to be in his Kingston hometown.

Gayle can barely walk. But he can definitely still hit.

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News Cricket

My positivity and passion about the game can help India to win T20 World Cup - Shardul Thakur

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:22 PM IST


Indian all-rounder Shardul Thakur has claimed that his positive attitude and passion about the game can help the Men in Blue to win the T20 World Cup title in Australia this year. The 28-year-old pacer scalped only four wickets in the three-match ODI series against the Black Caps and gave away plenty of runs to the hosts. He even faced the wrath of fans on social media for his poor performance on New Zealand soil.

During his recent interview in Mumbai, Shardul said, “Certainly I have my eyes on World Cup. The positivity that I bring into the game and the amount of confidence I have, the way I am passionate about the game will help the team to win the World Cup or at least do the job fairly.

Speaking about the importance of the Indian Premier League, Thakur added, “IPL is important and the momentum we gain from the IPL will be crucial going forward. There is the Sri Lanka T20s coming up and we are going to Zimbabwe after IPL. Then we are playing Asia Cup going into T20 World Cup.”

Shardul, who was unable to meet the expectations of fans and teammates in the ODIs against New Zealand, also stated that he will take it as a learning experience.

“I will study my mistakes and consider them as learning experiences. It was only my first trip to New Zealand and as compared to the other players, I have not played as many games for India.”

News Cricket

World Cup victory will change a lot of things for women cricket in India: Harmanpreet Kaur

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:21 PM IST


Indian women’s cricket team captain Harmanpreet Kaur has said that winning the Women’s T20 World Cup would be a big boost for women cricket in India. The Indian women came very close to winning an ICC trophy in 2017 when they panicked in the last moment to narrowly miss the chance of lifting the coveted cup at Lords in England.

“If we win the World Cup, there’s no doubt things will change. That tournament would bring a lot of confidence to the girls. If we get a women’s IPL that will be really good for us. If we win the World Cup, it’s going to be very big for us as a team, so we will try to give our best,” said the 29-year-old, while speaking at the captains’ media day at Taronga Zoo.

“Our team is growing day by day, everyone is looking so positive. It’s going to be very big if we win. We will try to give our best,” added the aggressive batter.

The ICC Women’s T20 World Cup will open with a mouth-watering clash between India and defending champions and hosts Australia in Adelaide on February 21.

News Cricket

Tainted Pakistani batsman Sharjeel wants to focus on PSL after return from a spot-fixing ban

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:19 PM IST


Pakistan cricketer, Sharjeel Khan, who was banned from all forms of competitive cricket on the charges of spot foxing, has vowed to focus on cricket and especially Pakistan Super League(PSL) on his return to competitive cricket.

“Look every person has a past and future and I don’t want to dwell into the past,” Sharjeel, who is making a comeback to competitive cricket after serving a five-year ban for spot-fixing, has said.

Sharjeel will play for the Karachi Kings in the fifth edition of PSL to be held from February 20 to March 22.

“What happened is over and the chapter is closed. My only focus now is on performing well in this PSL and I am not even thinking about the national selection,” Sharjeel said.

The 30-year-old was banned from all forms of cricket for five years -- half of it suspended -- for his role in a spot-fixing scandal during the 2017 PSL edition.

“I went out while playing the PSL and I am making a comeback in the PSL so it is very significant for me to perform in this tournament,” Sharjeel added.

News Cricket

Wanted to give Indian players a taste of their own medicine - Shoriful on wild celebration in the finale

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:18 PM IST


The young Bangladeshi pacer Shoriful Islam, who performed exceptionally well for his side in the Under-19 World Cup finale against India, recently revealed the reason behind his team’s wild celebration in South Africa. The junior Tigers were on fire in the grand finale of the U-19 World Cup as they outclassed the boys in blue by three wickets (DLS Method) despite Ravi Bishnoi’s four-wicket haul. Shoriful claimed that his team wanted India to give Indian players a taste of their own medicine after a few close defeats in the past.

“Actually, we lost two close matches against them in the past. One was the Asia Cup semi-final [in 2018] and the other was a [Asia Cup] final [in 2019]. I can’t describe what those defeats felt like. Before taking the field for the final, all I could think about was what they did after winning and how we felt after losing. So, we didn’t want things to turn out as they did before.”

“Firstly, we felt really bad. We lost at our home to them. They celebrated wildly in front of us back then and we couldn’t say anything. We were waiting for the day we would meet in a final again.”

When Islam was asked about whether he had ‘revenge’ in his mind before taking the field against India, “What I wanted was to give it our all. Then they would know what it is like when someone celebrates in front of you like that after you’ve lost.”

After their historic win against India in the showpiece event, some of the Bangladeshi players celebrated aggressively. As a result, things got heated up between both the teams. However, Akbar Ali apologized for the unfortunate incident later.

News Cricket

Winning World Test Championship is way better than a T20 or ODI World Cup: Pujara

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:16 PM IST


Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara has said that winning the inaugural World Test Championship would be the greatest achievement for him. The new 'Wall' of Indian cricket further said that Test Championship weighs way more than any limited over format’s trophy, even the World Cup.

"... when you become Test champions, I would say it is more than winning an ODI or a T20 World Cup. The reason is, this format is the ultimate format," Pujara, who last played a limited-overs match for India in 2014, said during the latest episode of 'Inspiration' on India Today.

"If you ask any great cricket player from the past, even the present cricketers, they would say that Test cricket is the most challenging format of this game. And when you become world champion of Test cricket, there is nothing like it," Pujara added.

India started the ICC World Test Championship with a 2-0 win over the West Indies, before blanking South Africa and Bangladesh 3-0 and 2-0 respectively at home. The men in Blue have secured 360 points from the first seven Tests to stay on course to reach the finale of the inaugural World Test Championship.

Virat Kohli's men will now take on New Zealand in a two-match Test series beginning on February 21 in Wellington.

News Cricket

My biopic will inspire many young girls to play cricket - Mithali Raj

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:14 PM IST


Indian women’s cricket team’s captain in Tests and ODIs, Mithali Raj has said that her upcoming biopic film ‘Shabhaash Mithu’ will inspire many young girls to play cricket. The 37-year-old right-hander believes that the movie will also encourage the girls to step out and dream about becoming a cricketer. The renowned Bollywood actress Taapsee Pannu will portray the role of the brilliant batswoman in the film.

A few days back, Pannu revealed the poster of the film on social media platforms.

“I’m happy that there is a biopic on my story because a lot will be shown about the struggles of a woman cricketer. When we started way back in the 90s, the journey of a woman cricketer in our country was difficult. It will also inspire a lot of young girls who dream about becoming a cricketer. Many young girls have the urge to play the sport but never get to see it on television so they feel there is no scope. This will open a lot of opportunities for them to dream,” she said.

The film, directed by Rahul Dholakia, will hit the theaters on February 5, 2021.

News Cricket

Its amazing Ashwin still remembers me, says SK, the man who taught carrom ball to Ashwin

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:13 PM IST


In a recent interview, Indian spin wizard, Ravichandran Ashwin revealed that he learned to ball the carrom ball from a guy during his Tennis ball cricket days in Chennai. Ashwin also rued the fact that he is unable to find that guy since then.

Cricbuzz, the website on whose show Ashwin revealed this, took upon themselves to find that man named SK. They did it within days and got a special message from him to Ashwin as well.

That guy’s real name is Karthik Sekhar. In a clip that Cricbuzz posted, Sekhar was seen praising Ashwin and he said he was humbled by the fact that Ashwin still remembers him.

“Hey Ashwin surprise, here is the SK you have been looking for. I am humbled by the praise you showered for me. This is one of the most pleasant surprises for us. We are so proud of you. From tennis ball cricket to making India proud, you have come a long way. I wonder if my carrom ball was that good, I should have taken it more seriously. Keep making us proud,” said Sekhar.

“Till today I can’t find where the guy is but I haven’t seen a better bowler who can bowl both in and out than him in my life. His name is SK. He was the one from whom I learned that ball,” Ashwin had said in an episode of Spicy Pitch on Cricbuzz.

News Cricket

India to play pink-ball Test against Australia and England

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:11 PM IST


The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) president Sourav Ganguly has confirmed that the Indian team will play a Day-Night Test against Australia and England in the upcoming series. Virat Kohli’s troops, who are invincible in the ongoing ICC Test Championship, are scheduled to tour Down Under for a four-match Test series in November 2020.

Speaking to the news agency PTI, Ganguly said, "Yes, India will play a Day/Night Test in Australia. A formal announcement will be made soon.”

The 47-year-old legendary batsman also added the second Test of the next home series against England will also be a day-night affair.

Virat Kohli-led Team India played their maiden pink-ball Test in 2019, where they defeated the Bangladeshi tigers at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.

On the eve of the first ODI against Australia last month, Kohli had said, "We're ready and up for the challenge - whether it's Gabba, Perth... it doesn't matter to us. It's become a very exciting feature of any Test series and we're open to playing day-night Tests."

India are currently gearing up for the two-match Test series against New Zealand starting from February 21.

News Cricket

It is great to rub shoulders with Indian spinners and listen to their experiences - Ish Sodhi

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:09 PM IST


Ahead of New Zealand’s two-match Test series against India, right-arm spinner Ish Sodhi has heaped praise on the Indian players. The Kiwi cricketer stated that Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal were very helpful and shared their experiences with him.

“You start off with respect and want to tap into their brains. These are all very helpful guys more than willing to share their experiences. Chahal is a great person to tap into. He is completely a different bowler, big-hearted. It is great to rub shoulders with these guys and listen to their experiences.”

“I was speaking to Jadeja the other day about how he goes on with his training. Talking to Ashwin about the carrom ball and the googly he bowls despite being an off-spinner. It’s crazy.”

Apart from the spinners, Sodhi also lauded the efforts of young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant for Team India.

“Like Rishabh, who is one of the most destructive hitters of spin. I would ask him what are the lengths that are hardest to hit. I have never seen someone with that kind of reach when he is attacking the spinners.”

Sodhi performed exceedingly well for his side in the T20I series against Men in Blue. He took a total of six wickets in five T20Is. The 27-year-old has played 17 Tests, 32 ODIs and 45 T20 Internationals so far.

News Cricket

He wants to put Marnus Labuschagne off- Steve Waugh on Sachin Tendulkar’s huge compliment

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:08 PM IST


Former Australian skipper Steve Waugh recently took a dig at the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar for praising Australian star Marnus Labuschagne. A few days back, the ‘God of Cricket’ had named Labuschagne as the player who reminds him of his batting style.

However, Waugh doesn’t agree with Tendulkar’s views as the 54-year-old feels that the former Indian cricketer spoke those words only to put Labuschagne off his game.

“Maybe he (Tendulkar) wants to put him (Labuschagne) off. I don’t think so. In my opinion, he has an appetite for runs. When he came to the side 12 months ago, he was 26th but now he is fourth-ranked Test player batsmen in the world, so it’s an incredible transformation.”

During the charity match for Bushfire victims in Australia, Tendulkar admitted that Labuschagne is a special player and his footwork is incredible.

“I happened to be watching the second Test match at Lord’s between England and Australia. I was sitting with my father-in-law. I saw Marnus get hit off the second ball from Jofra Archer and, post that, the 15 minutes he batted, I said, ‘This player looks special’. There is something about him. His footwork was precise. Footwork is not physical, it’s mental. If you’re not thinking positively in your mind, then your feet don’t move.”

News Cricket

Breakdown of trust led to his axing from the team: Morgan on Alex Hales

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 6:04 PM IST


England captain Eoin Morgan has said that non-selection of destructive opener Alex Hales was not based on performance but because of his off the field mischief which led to a breakdown in trust between the team and the player.

“There was a breakdown in trust between Alex and the team,” BBC quoted Morgan after England won the three-match T20I series against South Africa on Sunday.

“When he was deselected, it was never down to performance. He is one of the best players in the world. Moving forward, to regain that trust there needs to be a considerable amount of time,” said the England captain.

Hales recently finished as the second-highest scorer in the Big Bash League in Australia where he scored 576 runs for Sydney Thunder.

Hales will now be competing for Karachi Kings in the upcoming Pakistan Super League. Hales has also been picked for The Hundred – England’s maiden 100-ball franchise competition.

Morgan scored a match-winning 57 not out in just 22 balls, leading England to an emphatic win in the third and final T20I against the hosts.

News Cricket

Virat Kohli becomes the new meme material with his latest Instagram post

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 12:10 PM IST


India captain Virat Kohli shared a picture on social media with twisted faces. Kohli who is currently in New Zealand tweeted a picture with two of his team-mates Mohammed Shami and young opener Prithvi Shaw on Sunday.

In the latest picture, Kohli along with fast bowler Mohammad Shami and opening batsman Prithvi Shaw is seen making weird facial gestures. "Naya post-Sundar dost," Kohli captioned the picture.

As soon as the hilarious post went online, fans went berserk and termed it as the next meme material. Reacting to the post, a fan wrote: "Next meme material", while the other replied, "Meme walo: wah pic mil gaya!". While one fan went on to quote the famous Babu Bhaiya.

India's next assignment is a two-Test series against New Zealand, first of which will be played at Basin Reserve, Wellington from February 21-24. The series will be part of the ICC World Test Championship and India, having won all their previous seven matches, are leading the points table, while New Zealand have managed to accumulate 60 points from five matches.

News Cricket

BCCI ombudsman relieves Kapil Dev of Conflict of Interest charges

Abhishek Singh Updated: 17 February, 2020, 11:49 AM IST


Former India captain Kapil Dev has been relieved of the conflict of interest charges leveled against him by Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association member, Sanjeev Gupta. BCCI ombudsman DK Jain on Sunday confirmed that he has rendered the conflict of interest complaint against Kapil Dev as “infructuous” after the former India captain stepped down from his multiple cricketing roles.

Jain had earlier rendered infructuous, the complaint against Shantha Rangaswamy and Anshuman Gaekwad in December after they also stepped down from their multiple posts.

“The complaint against Kapil has been rendered infructuous,” Jain said.

All three of them were part of the Cricket Advisory Committee but resigned in September after MPCA life member Sanjeev Gupta had leveled conflict of interest allegations against them.

BCCI has now formed a new CAC. Jain had called Rangaswamy, Gaekwad, and Kapil for a personal hearing on December 27 and 28 in Mumbai but the World Cup-winning captain did not appear due to personal reasons.

As per the BCCI constitution, no person can occupy more than one post at the same time.

News Cricket

Bonhomie between CA and BCCI: Day and Night Test

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 17 February, 2020, 11:47 AM IST


It is peculiar how a common enemy can make strange bedfellows. Something similar is afoot as after much bitterness, Cricket Australia (CA) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) appeared to have found a thaw after the thorn that was the ICC. With Sourav Ganguly now announcing that India will play a day and night Test, it appears that the ICC may be coming up against the big three once more.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) set the cat amongst the pigeons by announcing that it was contemplating an ICC flagship tournament every year. This was after the ICC Champions Trophy was canceled and India were instead awarded the ICC Twenty20 World Cup, making the event a back-to-back tournament. The ICC’s logic was that the money generated would be spread amongst the permanent board members as well as the associates.

The BCCI has openly opposed the ICC, suggesting that the revenue cut accruing to it was disproportional to the revenue it was generating for the governing body of the sport. Furthermore, the presentation of another tournament did not serve the interest of the player although there was that point put out in good measure. Instead, the more influential cricket boards have opposed the idea under the base criteria that arranging bilateral series was in their commercial interests rather than featuring in too many ICC tournaments, even spread at once a year.

Much like this unofficial announcement of India willing to play a day and night Test in Australia, Sourav Ganguly, the BCCI president, let loose late last year that a four-nation tournament was in the works and would feature England besides India and Australia and a fourth team yet undecided. This seemed to have significantly eased up the tensions raked between the two teams and nations – India and Australia – after India turned down the request on their last tour of 2018-’19 to play one day and night Test.

Instead India strategically avoided the scenario, sensing the opportunity of a rare away series win which did culminate, leading to more angst for the hosts. The bitterness spewed even between players as Tim Paine, Australia’s Test captain, targeted Virat Kohli, India’s captain when pressed upon the possibility of a day and night Test on India’s next tour later this year.

The meeting between the two boards on the sidelines of the one-day internationals which were also a bone of contention as CA suggested BCCI was unwilling to yield and therefore, was pressed to break up the New Zealand series in two legs appears to have found a common scenario and possibly quid pro quo with the boards now aligning themselves against the ICC.

It is interesting that the last time India turned down Australia’s request for a day and night Test, they stated it was a lack of experience in the format. It is amazing how one near two day Test arranged at the eleventh hour and played against Bangladesh at the historic venue in Eden Gardens, Kolkata in November last year suddenly changed the issue of experience for the Indian cricket team and the BCCI. CA will not be complaining because there is a commercial value at stake.

News Cricket

Australia to start favourites in home Test series against India – Steve Waugh

Garima Kotroo Updated: 17 February, 2020, 11:45 AM IST


Virat Kohli and team are scheduled to travel to Australia for a four-match series in Whites later this year. India successfully dominated the Aussies in their last tour Down Under and clinched their first-ever Test series on Australian soil in 2019.

However, the former Australian skipper Steve Waugh believes that Aussies will start as favorites in the upcoming Test series against India. Waugh said that the return of David Warner and Steve Smith to the team along with the emergence of young player Marnus Labuschagne will give a huge advantage to the home team.

Speaking to the news agency PTI, Waugh stated, “Australia will be the favorite I think. We know the pitches well and the day-night Test is going to be something relatively new for India. I like the way Virat Kohli is taking that challenge. If you want to be the best side in the world, you have to win away from home as much as possible.”

Further, he also added, “You can’t take away from India winning last time but Australia did not have the best batsmen. Marnus Labuschagne has come out of nowhere, the bowling looks much settled now. India do not have weaknesses too, so it’s potential to be a great series.”