Chris Gayle – “You’re looking at a great man. I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course, I’m still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I’ll take that to the grave.”

Chris Gayle’s confidence and his flair that has oozed out every time the West Indian has taken the field will be on display a final time in ODIs at the World Cup that is scheduled to be held in England this year. The player, who is returning to the ODI fold for the series against Bangladesh will play his final ODI when the team’s campaign at the tourney comes to an end. At 39 years of age, Gayle has defined and redefined aggression, flamboyance, and chutzpah that has managed to instill fear in all bowling rivals across the globe.

Just 273 runs away from becoming the second Caribbean star to achieve the 10,000-run mark feat in ODIs, Gayle has acquired a reputation for being one of the most dangerous big-hitters in the cricketing world. He was the first ever player to score a hundred in T20Is – against South Africa in the T20I World Cup in 2007 – and his approach in ODIs has just been an extension of this mindset in T20s. His massive success in the format has been built around power and belligerence, which has obscured the beauty in Gayle’s batting.

The giant-of-a-man scores runs at such a ferocious pace that for most parts of his career, it has been assumed that Gayle bats without much technical nuance. His double century in the format in the World Cup four years earlier had been attributed to attritional hitting, but his flick of the wrists will display how he has a high degree of finesse too. Of course, Gayle has never been known for his footwork or his fitness, but his ODI career that has spanned 284 innings was a treat to witness because of his sheer power.

Also read: Gayle Back In Windies ODI Squad

The strength of his forearms or his shoulders makes Gayle a blithe of spirit, comparable to the force that players like Walcott, Lloyd, Richards or Greenidge possessed. His inability to strike fear by his nonchalant gait and his self-confidence – very rarely would a player give himself a nickname, as Gayle has done – makes him a real enigma in modern cricket. However, his inconsistency in the ODI format, along with his absence from the national team due to the recent turmoils with the WICB has managed to take away the sheen off Gayle, even if a wee bit.

The player has batted with an average of only 37.12 and with a strike-rate of 85.82, which are numbers that in no way do justice to the great man’s talent. However, as he prepares to walk away from the ODI format, his legion will hope that Gayle can sustain his form for one last time for his national team. Though the player has made his intention clear of playing in the T20 World Cup in Australia next year, he will be 41 by then, and with the Windies team having a new-look side in their ranks, Gayle’s selection in the event is not guaranteed either.

Hence, it might just well be that Gayle will walk out for his nation a final time this World Cup, and perchance he is able to inspire his team to a memorable showing, he could well be bidding adieu by reshaping the cricketing future of West Indies.

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