Sir Curtly, Gray raise question marks over Gayle’s viability for World T20
By Akeem Greene
Former West Indies fast bowlers, Sir Curtly Ambrose and Tony Gray, firmly believe that West Indies management should pull the plug on Chris Gayle in the T20 team if he does not come up with the goods during the five-match Twenty20 International series against Australia, which starts Friday in St. Lucia.
Gayle, who is considered the ‘King’ of T20 cricket, has not passed 40 since he made 100* against England at the World T20 in 2016.
A score of 40 against England in 2017 is his next best, and since he has returned to the team in the number three role, he has the best of 32*. In seven innings at three – all in 2021, the Jamaican averages 14.16 and has a strike rate of 101.19.
Sir Ambrose and Gray, speaking Tuesday on a Barbados radio programme, expressed concern over Gayle’s recent form.
“He is a very experienced man, and on his day, even at age 41, if he gets going, he can still be a force and take an attack to any bowling team and be very destructive. However, presently he is not firing and looks a bit out of sorts and he is just not looking the same Chris Gayle that we know,” Sir Curtly stated.
He added, “How he is looking now, he is not looking confident, he is not looking like he will score a lot of runs. He might hit a six or two and gets out so I have a question mark over that, but let’s see how he does against Australia.”
“If he doesn’t fire after the first few games, we may have to move on and give some younger players a chance. Reputation is not the only thing, performances are, so let’s see what he does.”
Trinidadian Gray, who played five Tests and 25 One-Day Internationals, shared similar sentiments: “If he does not fire against Australia for the first two games, I am not taking him to the World Cup…we cannot take him if he’s not firing and must give the remaining games to younger players to prepare.”
At the top of the order, he averages over 30 and has two centuries to go with 13 half-centuries; his record in T20 leagues is even more phenomenal opening the batting.
However, over the last two seasons of the Indian Premier League, Punjab Kings XI have opted to bat him mainly at three, and now the West Indies.
At the IPL, he has reaped success in the position. In the 2020 IPL, he played seven matches and scored 288 runs, inclusive of 99, and a season’s average of 41.14 and strike rate of 137.14.
This season, he played eight matches and scored 178 runs at an average of 25.42 and strike rate of 133.83.
Speaking in Grenada, where he made 32* in the first T20I against South Africa, Gayle expressed he is happy to perform the new role.