Freelancer Gayle looking for that Caribbean touch

Cricket Champions League T20

Looking ahead: Chris Gayle’s form will be vital in Royal Challengers Bangalore’s campaign in the Champions League T20. DH PHOTO/ Srikanta R Sharma

Chris Gayle is the cricketing equivalent of a Ronin -- a ninja soldier without a permanent master. A combination of factors have ensured that the explosive Jamaican is no longer a preferred name in the West Indian cricketing officialdom, forcing him to be a freelance cricketer.

His absence can be called the clash of egos or conflict of interests, but the eventual losers are the West Indies. No more a fertile breeding ground of awe-inspiring talent like it used to be in the past, West Indies have suffered massively without Gayle’s imposing presence.

Despite the heavy blows, Gayle has kept a happy exterior but a hurt soul lurks beneath it. “It’s disappointing and hurting that I can’t play for the West Indies. I miss all the action, and the company of the guys around. But then that’s life, and you have to deal with such situations. But yes, I hope things will turn for good soon, and I can play for the West Indies,” Gayle told Deccan Herald.

The train of unsavoury episodes started when he was sacked as West Indian skipper just ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka in 2010. Gayle replied his critics with a 333 to become the only fourth batsman in the history to make two triple hundreds along with Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag.

But more shock was in store for him as West Indian bigwigs questioned his commitment that ultimately led to his ouster from the team. “It was strange (to remove him from captaincy ahead of SL tour). But what was stranger was that my own people questioning my commitment even when I was the captain. You don’t like those things, but I guess you need to tackle such things in life.

“But yes, it was hurting to see people questioning my commitment to the West Indies cricket. There were a lot of unwanted comments about me at that time, but I can’t let my my mind to wander to those issues as I need to concentrate on whatever cricket I have been playing and need to enjoy it. I can’t let those off-field things affect my passion for cricket.”

So, is there any chance of him coming back to the fold? “The issue with WICB has been more or less settled. We had talks with WICB CEO (Ernest Hillaire), and things are in pretty fine shape. West Indies coach (Ottis Gibson) wanted a public apology, and I don’t see any reason to do that, so I think we have to wait on those things. As far as the India series (in June this year) is concerned, I wasn’t even picked for the camp and I wasn’t there when the team was announced. So, till the entire episode has been cleared, I have to play for teams that need my services and wait for my turn to play for the West Indies,” said. Gayle, who will be playing for South African side Dolphins in the ProT20 tournament after the Champions League T20.

“It will be exciting to play for Dolphins in that tournament. There will be Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait with us. I like the T20 format and South Africa is a lovely place to play cricket, so I am keenly looking forward to it,” he said.

Gayle has also appeared for Western Australia in the T20 Big Bash, making Dolphins his third team over a year. Is it a satisfying experience for an international cricketer of repute to be just a roving player without a permanent team?

“I am at the peak of my career, but I was forced out of international cricket, and I have no real choice than playing for teams that need me. As I said I am at the peak of my career, and I have necessary skills and temperament to score a lot more runs at the international stage. But sadly, I have been shunted out of international cricket. If you put yourself in my shoes, you can see that I made a tough choice, forced to be a freelancer who sells his skills. But I need to do that, and wait for things to turn around.”

Gayle will not be the only one hoping for a quick turnaround.

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