Chris Gayle, one of the giants of T20 cricket who is here to support the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL), spoke on a range of issues, including on T20’s influence on Test cricket, the emergence of KL Rahul and the camaraderie he shares with Virat Kohli and Usain Bolt. Excerpts…
How did it go in the US during the T20 series against India?
I thought the turnout in the US was fantastic. To have been able to organize games at such short notice was nice. The US can definitely be a great market for international cricket and we hope to see more international matches being held there in the future.
What makes West Indies such a successful T20 nation?
From the men’s point of view, Chris Gayle is there (laughs)! That’s a huge impact. From the women’s team’s point of view, Stephanie Taylor is there – a fantastic player as well. Most of the players in our side play T20 competitions all over the world and have the experience needed to play in this format. We are a naturally gifted T20 side with some superb fielders and great all-rounders. With so much T20 experience on our side, it will always be a challenge to beat us in the shorter formats.
What’s the root cause of disparity between West Indies’ T20 and Test sides and do you fancy playing Tests again?
When I look at both formats of the game – I feel we fail to concentrate for longer periods of time (in Tests). This has been the case since the time I made my debut under Brian Lara. We only play (quality) cricket for short sessions and we win a session here or there. And then, we switch off and that’s why we tend to lose a lot of Test matches. Having patience and batting for long sessions is something that’s been lacking (in West Indies Test team). That’s not the case in T20s as we have the experience and the talent to go the distance. With regards to me playing Tests – yes, it’s a possibility. The talks are on and we will have to wait and see what happens.
We recently saw Abhinav Mukund employ a black-coloured bat during a TNPL game, and even you had used a golden bat during T20s. What’s the rationale behind this?
Using coloured bats definitely brings different flavour to the game. I don’t think using these bats may make the ball travel far, but it sort of brings out the passion in a batsman (who is playing with such a bat). Cricket is all about passion and that’s how it should be always.
How was the feedback for your book ‘Six Machine’?
It has been excellent. I will be having another launch in New Delhi on September 9 with the likes of BCCI president (Anurag Thakur) and Virender Sehwag being part of it. I am thankful for the kind words many have said about the book. People can hear my voice from within the book and we have used a few Jamaican slangs in it which many have liked. I am happy to have been able to do a book and share my story with the world. I still have a lot more to share and may need a few more pages for one more book.
How do you look at KL Rahul’s emergence since you have seen him from close quarters at the Royal Challengers Bangalore?
Rahul is a super player and has been scoring runs in all formats of the game. He is definitely one for the future. Rahul is someone who will be giving Virat Kohli a run for his money, and he works extremely hard on his fitness and on his game. He is definitely going great guns and all he needs to do is keep working hard and the results will follow.
McGrath, in a recent interview, said T20 needs good Test cricketers and cited you as an example. What’s your take on it?
Firstly, T20s have changed the way Test cricket is played today. When you look at any day’s play, 180-200 used to be scored earlier in a day in Tests. Today one gets to see scores close to 300 being hit and that’s happened due to the advent of T20s. Test players who play T20s develop skills to score runs quickly. David Warner is a good example of that and that’s how myself or even Virender Sehwag have scored a lot of runs in Tests.Usain Bolt is more than a legend and has made Jamaica proud with his achievements. The only thing for Bolt will be to now be part of say a 400m event or long jump and excel in that. He has set the benchmark high for athletes across the world.What’s your take on the TNPL?
I have had a lot of positive feedback over the last few days and hopefully it will be a good platform for the youngsters to showcase their talent. I think such tournaments could help spot local talent and that’s good for the game. It’s my first experience in the TNPL and hopefully I will have a good time.
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