If six months ago, someone was able to look in their crystal ball and announce that the West Indies cricket team would become the World T20 Champions in October, we would have thought that they took leave of their senses. That seemed totally impossible.
The team was young, comparatively inexperienced, and definitely not living up to their true potential in batting, bowling or fielding. Even worse, was the idea that the captain, 28-year old lanky St Lucian, Darren Sammy, had just barely played 20 test matches. Some even argued that Sammy could not make the team as a front-line batsman or a stock bowler, so why was he even in the team? To Sammy's credit he, on occasion, more that rose to the task both as a batsman and a medium pace bowler. He was shaky as a captain, but seemed to have come into his own as evidenced in the recent T20 wins.
Re-Enter Chris Gayle
Six months ago Chris Gayle was not a member of the West Indies cricket team, as was the case for the past 15 months or so. However, Gayle is back and has contributed in no small measure to the team's massive success. It is quite likely that were it not for Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent, this may not have been the case. PM Gonsalves, almost single-handedly engineered Gayle's comeback.
Along with Dr Baldwin Spencer of Antigua/Barbuda, and Dr Julian Hunte, president of the WICB, after 15 frustrating months of negotiations, Chris Gayle has been able to return to the West Indies cricket team. Incidentally, all of these negotiations/meetings took place in St Vincent, as Dr Gonsalves furiously sought to bring the conflicted parties together for the benefit of the region, and the glorious game of cricket itself.
I was not a party to these negotiations, but obviously there had to be a memorandum of agreement. There was only one attorney in the room, so can you guess WHO drafted it?
Last year. it appeared as though the agreement was about to fall apart as all associated parties sought to have their individual and often opinionated, input.
When things looked dicey, one of the prime ministers proposed a side letter meeting. He suggested an amendment, again invited the parties to St Vincent, and FINALLY RESOLVED the issue once and for all. Gayle is now a permanent fixture on the world champion team, compliments to Dr Ralph Gonsalves!
World T20 Champions!
Chris Gayle must be credited in no small measure for the team's resurgence on the cricketing stage. His contributions to the team are many-faceted, starting from his batting performances which are easily recognized by their trademark attacking and pugnacious approaches. This tall, imposing, 32 year-old Jamaican has a distinct lack of respect for opposition bowlers. He plays magnificently off either foot, and has the ability to decimate the bowling figures of even the thriftiest opening bowlers. Gayle's outstanding hand-eye coordination permits him to continually dispatch even good length deliveries high and hard over the boundary line.
Just his presence in the team, provides a significant lift to the team's spirits and confidence level. It is as though they feel that as long as Chris is at the wicket, there is no way we could lose. Off the field, the team seems to be more united than ever and the level of camaraderie is absolutely amazing. The team is so well-jelled that they have even created their own method of celebration -- The Gangnam Style Dance.
Additionally, the mere inclusion of Gayle in the team causes the opposition to cringe and tremble with fear. I speak subject to correction, but I am of the firm opinion that there is no other batsman in the entire cricketing world who is as feared as Chris Gayle is. He is THAT explosive and destructive!
Gayle did not win the championship by himself though. As indicated above, captain Sammy performed his duties credibly. The individual batsmen did not always deliver, but they took turns where and when each of them made tremendous contributions to the team's batting scores.
Johnson Charles of St Lucia did well against England with a sparkling 84, but it was Marlon Samuels' 78 in 56 minutes which clinched the series.
In the bowling department, Narine's 3 for 20 against New Zealand, Rampaul's 3 for 16 against Australia, Pollard's 2 for 6 against Australia, Narine's 3 for 9 against Sri Lanka and Sammy's 2 for 6 against Sri Lanka were extremely impressive.
Gayle's presence in the team was nothing short of electrifying. His 75 from 41 balls in the semi-finals boosted the team's spirits, and gave them the feeling that indeed they could win the championship. With his 6 sixes and 5 fours, he pummeled the Australian attack mercilessly. Gayle was typically brutal, and in the 15th over he dispatched off-spinner Hussey for 2 fours and a six. As long as Chris Gayle is in this kind of form, all he needs is one or two patient partners at the crease, and they will turn the course of any game around.
Sir Chris Gayle
So the West Indies team is continuing to claw its way back to the top of the cricketing world under Darren Sammy's captaincy, but Chris Gayle undoubtedly is the Pilot. He was in the doldrums for a while, but were it not for the timely intervention of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, he still may have been out in the pasture.
I know my people, and I could already anticipate the responses which this article will easily generate. I will sit back and enjoy reading those contributions.