Gayle: ‘At 41, it’s more mental than physical’

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By Avenash Ramzan

At 41, most cricketers have either retired and transitioned to other professions in or out of the game, or are just relaxing and enjoying the finer things in life.

For Chris Gayle though, that next phase of life is currently on the back burner, as he is set to make a return to international cricket, with much vigour and intent.

Gayle, the six-hitting Jamaican, who last played a T20 International for West Indies against England in March 2019, will feature for the Caribbean side in a three-match T20 series against Sri Lanka, starting Wednesday at the Coolidge Cricket Ground, Antigua, from 18:00h.

“It’s more mental than physical to me; it’s the willpower of the mind. The mind still wants to actually be there; the mind wants to be out there on the park, still executing from a batting point of view,” Gayle responded when asked about the mental strength of still playing the game with such intensity at his age.

“If the mind stops operating like that for me then I would have to ask myself a big question, but for now, it’s just the mindset. The mindset is still good; I’m still looking after myself.”

“I make sure I have a clear mind at all times; once you have a clear mind you can actually be free to do whatever you want.”

Quetta Gladiators’ Chris Gayle plays a shot during the first Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket T20 match between Karachi Kings and Quetta Gladiators at the National Stadium in Karachi on February 20, 2021. (Photo by Asif HASSAN/AFP)

While there have been lots of attention on the return of format’s most prolific scorer, the left-hander said his energy is focused on helping the Caribbean side win the three-match series.

“We want to win the series. I know (me) being back it might be a little of attention, but I don’t want it to go in that regard to be honest with you. We’re looking at things from a team point of view,” Gayle, who has two hundreds from 58 T20 Internationals for West Indies, said.

“I just want to win the series, just want to get off to a good start. It’s really good to be back; hopefully I can perform and help the team and put the team in a winning position.”

Ultimately, the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ pointed out, the aim is to build momentum ahead of the World T20 later this year in India and lift the title for a third time.

“The bigger picture is actually to get three T20 titles under my belt, so that’s the goal I’m setting ahead. We have quite a few series coming up; we have a lot of cricket leading up to that as well,” Gayle asserted.

Gayle, who last November became the first player to hit 1,000 sixes in the T20 format, left the Pakistan Super League (PSL) prematurely to play the series against Sri Lanka.

In two innings for Quetta Gladiators in the PSL, he struck 39 off 24 and 68 off 40.

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