CWI has no choice but to grant Gayle his farewell

Sun, Jul 7, '19


Chris Gayle

The West Indies is set to play host to India for a full tour which will bowl off on August 3rd in Florida. The One-Day International series was set to mark a new era in West Indies 50-over cricket, with the expectation that the young core of this team would be given an extended run of games. With the T20I series seeing the return of the T20 stars, while the Test series would have been marketed as WINDIES being the first team to feature in the inauguration of the ICC World Test Championship, the 2019-2021 edition. However, with Chris Gayle taking a controversial U-turn on his retirement decision, the ODI series will now be anticipated as a signing-off for Gayle and there is now the small matter of a farewell game for the Jamaican, in the Test series. The bigger issue, though, lies within the idea of a farewell Test for a player who has been absent from the Test scene for 5 years, this coming September. 

A case could be made for a man who has two triple centuries, three double hundreds and fifteen centuries in Test cricket deserving a send-off. Yet, a case could also be made against the left-hander on the premise that he bade his goodbye to Test cricket long ago, having last played the longest format in Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines back in 2014 against Bangladesh. Where I stand, however, is here: the timing of a farewell Test match for Christopher Henry Gayle is an inconvenience, as:

  1. The West Indies has just stumbled upon what looks like the partner Kraigg Brathwaite has been yearning for.
  2. Immediately prior to the game Gayle is keen to play (the second Test at Sabina Park); Test matches will no longer be just Test matches

1a. Cricket West Indies made it a priority to keep the core of this present Test team together (doing away with the all-too-familiar chopping and changing); an effort which began bearing sweet fruit earlier this year with a 2-1 series victory over England. Of course, things began to fall into place prior to the series win; the West Indian seamers had a fantastic year with the ball the previous season. While, wicket-keeper Shane Dowrich, having hit a rough patch, recognized the threat to his place in the team when the CWI selectors included Jahmar Hamilton, which indirectly aided the Bajan in pulling up his socks. Next on the selection panel’s list was finding a partner for Kriagg Brathwaite at the top of the order, as Kieran Powell stood inconsistent. This led to John Campbell being given a chance. The contributions of the Campbell/Brathwaite partnership in the England series victory were invaluable to the Caribbean side’s cause. Herein lies the concern:

Now, Gayle having stated that “maybe (I will play) a Test match against India” means that regardless of whatever happens in the first Test; no matter how well this opening pair goes—individually or as a partnership—one will be cast aside when the tour gets to Sabina. And for what? To facilitate Gayle’s need to say ‘goodbye’ to Test cricket? Something that is rather small in the grand scheme of things.

2a. The West Indies are now going into a Test Championship–a tournament. A lengthy campaign of two years, but a tournament nonetheless. One in which we have the privilege to start with home advantage. We all know how important it is to get off to a good start, with points up for grabs. And what Gayle is seeking, is literally to hop in, then out. What will happen should the West Indies be leading the series heading to Jamaica? Should the team risk surrendering a lead by changing a winning team? And let us be fair, not because it is the ‘Universe Boss’, there is a risk. More importantly, should the West Indies be trailing the series when they get to Jamaica, having the opportunity to draw level, should the team risk that by bringing in the man who has been sitting out for five years? There lies the concern when Gayle not only wants a farewell game, but a specific game.

After all that, however, Chris Gayle will be given his farewell; considering one of the narratives of the just concluded Cricket West Indies Presidential Election by the present administration, in their campaign, was the Chanderpaul saga and how the Guyanese was not given a proper send-off. How hypocritical would it be of the present administration not to do one better on the first opportunity presented to them?