Chris Gayle: T20's biggest visionary and revolutionary

Fri, Apr 20, '18

by SIDHARTH MONGA

Commentary

Junior Bennett, who coached Jamaica to five straight regional first-class titles without any experience of having played first-class cricket himself, loves to tell a story of Chris Gayle's evolution as a batsman. Back when Gayle hadn't yet made it, most people in Kingston would turn up, Bennett says, just to watch one shot. When the ball would be short of a length, even higher than the hip, Gayle would go back, get tall and punch it "down the road".

Now Gayle hardly plays that shot. Bennett has also spent time with Jamaica Tallawahs, once upon a time Gayle's Caribbean Premier League team. In the nets Gayle sometimes still plays that shot, looks straight at Bennett, and says: "I still have it, coach."

Yet Gayle knows the shot gets you only one or two runs in limited-overs cricket once the field spreads out. And Gayle was the first one to actually teach us that the first casualty of Twenty20 cricket was the importance of the single. So now when you pitch short of a length to Gayle, you will find he has his front leg out of the way and, depending on the width available, he either slogs over midwicket or goes over extra cover.