Chris Gayle, as enthusiastic as ever, has announced that he will retire from one-day internationals after this summer’s World Cup in England.
The batsman who revels in the nickname the “Universe Boss” is about to enter the final furlong of his international career when he plays for the West Indies in the ODI series against England that starts on Wednesday.
“It is good to be back with the boys and playing against England,” he said. “I’m always looking to put on a show. England fans love to see the Universe Boss exploding and entertaining you guys as much as possible.”
“It is a big year for me. I hope 2019 can finish for me on a great note. It started well with various tournaments but being back in West Indies colours is the most important.”
Gayle has not played for the West Indies since last July – he has missed matches subsequently to play in foreign leagues – and confirmed that the ODI World Cup would mark the end of his 50-over career.
“In 50-over cricket, definitely the World Cup. I’m looking to draw the line there – or should I say cut the string – let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun.”
Winning the World Cup – he has never even reached the semi-finals in his four previous appearances – would be the perfect denouement to Gayle’s ODI career. “Absolutely, the youngsters owe it to me,” he joked.
Chris Gayle's ODI career in numbers. pic.twitter.com/ZQjO53WySH
— CricTracker (@Cricketracker) February 18, 2019
For all that Gayle is best-known for his T20 career, his one-day record also stands measure with the best. He needs another 273 to reach 10,000 runs. In the 2015 World Cup, he scored 215 against Zimbabwe, his first double century in ODI cricket. Gayle remains the holder of a unique 3-2-1 in international cricket – a Test match triple century (he has two), an ODI double century and a T20 international century (he also has two).
That he is still playing international cricket, seven months before he turns 40, reflects his self-knowledge about his game, easily overlooked when there is so much focus on all the pizazz of his lifestyle.
“I’m in good condition,” he said. “The body is feeling good and I’m pleased with that. I’ve lost a bit of weight. I’m still working on my six pack.
Any bowler is going to beware of Chris Gayle. That doesn’t change because he is 39 now, they are going to be saying, ‘Yes, he’s got some grey hairs in his beard, let’s get him now, this is the perfect time to get the Universe Boss now he is 39’.
As the Windies ace batsman @henrygayle announced his decision to quit ODIs following the 2019 World Cup, we look at facts and figures from his 50-over career that made him so special #chrisgayle pic.twitter.com/AgcVILCTZf
— Cricbuzz (@cricbuzz) February 19, 2019
“I’ll be bringing some experience to play and sharing that with the youngsters and I hope to enjoy the next couple of months with the West Indies cricket team.”
Gayle may carry on playing T20 internationals until the next T20 World Cup, in Australia in October 2020, when he will be 41. Before then, he hopes to play in the inaugural Hundred tournament, which launches in England in the summer of 2020.
“I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say ‘thank you guys; bring in a youngster now. I set the trend for you like I did in all tournaments around the world.’ Fingers crossed; we’ll see what happens.”
Before then, Gayle hopes that the West Indies will provide an encore of their performances in the Test series. “This first game will be very important. If we get on top of them it can change the series. They have the best team in ODI cricket right now, on paper.
They are better. But it’s how you play on the day and as a unit we’re playing good cricket, we’re on home soil and hopefully we can stamp our authority.”
England showed why Gayle holds them in such high esteem with a powerful batting display in their warm-up game at the bucolic Three Ws Oval. Jason Roy hit a century in only 78 balls, and then Joe Root in 74 deliveries, anchoring England’s total of 371 for seven.
Barring Jos Buttler, who has been given some time off, England picked their full-strength team, with Mark Wood preferred to David Willey.
The looming ODI series will be the last with Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. He leaves after the tour of the Caribbean to become Warwickshire’s sport director. His departure leaves England needing to recruit a replacement in time for the World Cup and Ashes this summer.
Paul Collingwood, who is currently in the Caribbean and has done a number of stints with the side over the past five years, is considered the favourite.