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Is Chris Gayle really the best WI can do?

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Before you continue reading, I must confess that I have an irrational dislike for Chris Gayle. When I first started disliking him, there was a rational reason, but over the years, I’ve forgotten what it is. The feelings never change though. BUT, I have put much effort to make this post a non-biased one, so hear me out.

I don’t think Chris Gayle should be the captain of West Indies. Chris is a tremendous batsman and there is no doubt about that. It is unfair on him that his team collapses the minute he goes. He can’t do anything about it, other than scream and shout at them or sulk till they decide to at least give it a shot once Gayle falls. But he doesn’t have to be the captain to do that. Being the best batsman in the side, is hardly a criteria to be the captain. It will help, sure; but it doesn’t necessary mean it will work. A theory proved again and again by Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and even Kevin Pietersen.

Many seem to love Chris Gayle’s laid back attitude, and although being uptight and tense is not a desirable quality in leaders, there is something called too laid back. Chris Gayle is too laid back. If the WICB and the players are to be believed, this current team, is not only trying to win tournaments, but also trying to hoist WI back to their glory days. Cricket in West Indies is in a sorry state today. Once upon a time, teams celebrated like mad if they had managed to restrict West Indian openers to a 250 runs partnership, or had successfully survived merely six balls from a West Indian spear-head. They had snatched cricket from the hands of its makers and trademarked it as their own. Today they struggle to get people to come watch the matches.

Why should they come watch the matches? Not only do their team suck, they never look like they are playing any game with the intent to win. Laid back bowling, laid back batting, laid back fielding and laid back captain. I firmly believe that a team is a reflection of its leader and WI have always proved me right. There is no urgency in Chris Gayle, ever. When the wickets aren’t falling, he barely looks like he is doing anything about it. Whether he is out of ideas, or he is too lazy OR he thinks that this is the best way of dealing with it (not showing ANY emotions), I have no clue. But he treats his captaincy like his batting. Only the problem is, on his days, even a lazy Chris Gayle is unstoppable at the crease. The captaincy, unfortunately, does not work like that.

How many times have you seen a scenario where the opposition is beating the crap out of the West Indian bowlers, Dwayne Bravo is still trying his best and the rest are just standing around watching the match? Of course when they are not injured, Sulieman Benn, Kemar Roach, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards and Darren Sammy put in their all too. But the others are still always, just watching.

Apparently, the Caribbean don’t have a single other leader to replace Chris Gayle at the moment. Now, I don’t live there and their domestic cricket don’t have good coverage (well, domestic cricket don’t have good coverage anywhere in the world), but I was pretty impressed with Darren Ganga. Here was a captain tremendously involved in all parts of the game, and yet letting his bowlers do their thing. He was inspiring and certainly led a brave campaign in the inaugural Champions League. But his batting, apparently, is not up to international standards.

Okay, then send him to the nets, make him work on it. Put him in the team; force him to fix his techniques as he faces different conditions and bowlers. How else is he supposed to learn? Bottom line is batting can be learned and fixed. To be a good captain you need to have something inside you- a passion and a drive that not only takes you forward but also takes your team forward. It’s what Gayle lacks. It’s what Darren Ganga has.

If you are not too convinced by Darren Ganga, then pick someone from the team...Dwayne Bravo or Darren Sammy, for instance. They are going to be terrible at first, but it’s not like West Indies are winning matches to begin with. West Indies just don’t need a captain right now, they need a leader, one that will inspire and provoke the belief of the Cricket Gods that they once were; One that will draw the crowds back to the stadium, to back their team up till the very last ball; One that will evoke a rage in the players each time they lose, so they are able to use it positively and unleash the unstoppable, unbeatable West Indian cricketer that lives in all of them.

That man is not Chris Gayle. It will never be.


( Purna Hassan pretends to be a lot of things but is actually just a cricket lover and nothing else. She has been watching cricket ever since she can remember and is an avid supporter of Bangladesh and South Africa, which also means that she is frequently heart-broken and angry. She dislikes Stuart Broad immensely. Purna also blogs at cricketminded.blogspot.com )


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