Having played 56 T20Is for the Windies and in franchise T20 league all over the world, Chris Gayle has yet again reiterated the fact that he is the greatest ever T20 cricketer off this generation.
he Jamaican cricketer was in India recently when DT caught up with him to talk about his connect with India, why he thinks he’s the ‘Universe Boss’, and his decision to only hit fours and no sixes from now on.
He first toured India as a 19-year-old in the West Indies A squad back in 1998. “It was A-team cricket and I didn’t have a name back then, so I didn’t get that sort of rush and attention,” Gayle recounts. The southpaw says that he cherishes that memory more than the world record of 175 in the IPL several years later. He tells us, “Everybody talks about that 175 I made in Bangalore whenever I’m asked about my favourite memory from India. But I have so many memories from here, starting with that first-class debut. That was something fantastic. It was in Pune (he played for West Indies A against Indian Youth XI in November ’98) and that’s something I’ll always remember. I’ll always remember that ground and city. I can never forget Pune. It’s always a pleasure playing cricket in India.”
Being in India, Gayle also spoke about his love for India and its people. he further said that he likes to travel throughout the country and enjoy the charm that the country has to offer.
“When we are playing IPL, we can’t really go out. Try having a cricketer walk into a mall and they’ll get mobbed. So we just stay in our hotel room, playing cards, watching movies, and all that stuff,” says Gayle. “I chill when I’m in India. I’d love to do so many things here. There are so many things to see in India, and you have no idea how much I want to see them.” Gayle sees shades of West Indies in the current Indian side and their newfound aggressive flair. “There is only one place they can get it from,” he says with a laugh. “They got it from the West Indies – that goes without saying. We, Caribbean guys, brought this thing to India and they are capitalising on it now.”
On claiming himself as the greatest T20 cricketer of this generation, Gayle further said " Don’t remember the things that you have done in the other two formats.’ But now that I think about it, they say Chris Gayle is the best T20 player ever. That’s what they say, right? There is no debate in T20 cricket about who is the best player. There is debate in Test cricket and ODI cricket. That’s why I’m the Universe Boss, I’m the greatest!” announces Gayle with a hint of arrogance in his eyes and a smile on his lips. Of course, since he mentions it, one is compelled to ask him about the history behind his now famous nickname. “I came up with it,” he tells us, adding, “So many things you have done, man. Come on, you’re past the world now’, I said to myself. ‘Just take a trip to the universe and see what more you can accomplish’. And everybody accepted it. Nobody actually questioned why I called myself the Universe Boss, because everyone agrees that the things I have done are beyond this world. I have reinvented the game itself."
Gayle concluded his interaction by saying that, he has been always passionate about playing for West Indies. “I have always been passionate about playing for West Indies. As a youngster, I got a chance to play for the team and share the dressing room with my hero Brian Lara and legends like Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. That was fantastic, regardless of the ups and downs in my career with the board.” His run-ins with the authorities in West Indies cricket have cost him several international games, but Gayle doesn’t regret anything that happened in the past. He says matter-of-factly, “In every business, you will have bosses and employees who have problems. It’s just something you have to live with. Being in the business for such a long time is a great achievement. I can’t complain. I’m thankful that I have been able to achieve so much" said Gayle as he concluded.
(With TOI Inputs)