Christopher Henry Gayle, the self-declared “greatest player in the world” will retire from ODI cricket after the 2019 Cricket World Cup. The towering, West Indian left-hander will be hoping to at least add 273 runs in the tournament and become only the 14th player to score 10,000 ODI runs. Although it’s very likely he’ll reach that milestone well before the tournament gets started at the end of May, (and before this article gets published!) given that he already smashed 135 against England in the first of the 5 match series last week.
At age 39, what he may lack in speed and agility he certainly makes up in overflowing self-esteem. “I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course. I can’t complain. T20s, ODIs, Tests - you’re looking at a great man...They (the England bowlers) are going to be saying: ‘Yes, he’s got some grey hairs in his beard. Let’s get him now. This is the perfect time to get the universe boss now he is 39.’”
Gayle’s career stats are impressive. His Test match batting figures demonstrate that he could play the long game when required: 7214 runs from 103 matches - with a nine hour 333 against Sri Lanka in 2010 a particular highlight. But it is in the shorter formats where this beast of a man has starred. With the advent of fast paced and thrilling T20 cricket, the big hitting Jamaican made a name for himself as the most sought after batsmen in the IPL, BPL and the Big Bash League, as well as the Caribbean Premier League. Scoring almost 14,000 runs around the world in both domestic and international T20 competitions, he has become an opening bowler’s worst nightmare; making the majority of his runs from huge sixes (over 3,200 and counting). He has also been handy with the ball; picking up over 250 wickets across all international formats, and has shown he is the world class all-rounder that he claims to be.
Since making his debut in 1999, he has arguably gone on to become the second most famous West Indian cricketer in recent years - only behind the legend that is Brian Lara - and will be sorely missed in ODI’s. He has notched up 23 centuries in this format, including 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015, making him only the sixth player in the history of the men’s game to hit a double hundred.
Hopefully though, this won’t be the last we see of Gayle on the international stage: “I want to be the first man to play ‘til 50” he boasts, and has not ruled himself out the World T20 in Australia in 2020. There’s rumours too that he might play in the inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ next year. ‘Should the “Universe Boss” get an invite to the ECB’s new 100 ball format?’. “Well, if I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament” says Gayle. Well, that settles that one.
The Cricket World Cup in England and Wales starts on 30th May 2019.