When Chris Gayle joined Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2011 as an injury replacement, Virat Kohli was still finding his feet in the big world of cricket. In the six years they have played together for the Indian Premier League team, respect for each other has only grown.
With Virat Kohli scoring a career-best 235 at the Wankhede Stadium, his third Test double century in 2016, Gayle has only become a bigger admirer of the Indian Test captain. India won the series against England after Ravichandran Ashwin took 12 wickets at Wankhede Stadium.
Speaking to HT on the sidelines of the USL Diageo road safety campaign in India, Gayle was reluctant to talk about his RCB skipper before obliging. The West Indies ‘universe boss’ also spoke on the MCC proposal to limit bat size, on giving the Big Bash a miss this time, problems ailing West Indies cricket and a peek into the routine for matches of this party animal.
Another double century from Kohli in Tests…
He was always elevated as Superman. I have said it before, these things are just showing up now. I am sure there are many more (knocks) to come from Virat. He will do so much things… (it will be) unbelievable. I hope the youngsters can follow in his footsteps.
Why did you give Big Bash a miss?
This is her (daughter Blush) first Christmas. I never got a chance to be home on Christmas or New Year. I want to make this one count. It is hard to leave her after spending some time. I will hug her and kiss her and play around. Inshallah I will reach home safely. I will be in Australia during the New Year for some work. I will play in the other editions (of Big Bash), Inshallah.
Why do you use Inshallah so often?
I don’t know, it kind of stuck with me from the players. It has been since long time.
Is the fire still burning to play Tests for West Indies again?
It is burning, but the body is burning even more. The desire is still there, no doubt about it. There are a few niggles after the back surgery… it tends to flare up. I was playing in Bangladesh last week (in the BPL) and there was some discomfort. I have to see the specialist and get the body to 100 per cent. For now, first-class cricket will be out of the window.
That started already and finishes in January. There won’t be any Test cricket in 2017 from West Indies’ point of view and as per the rules, you have to play first-class. So, 2017 is out of the picture. It will only happen if there is some rule change. I am still looking to play around the world. I was targeting Test cricket in November. I have to rule it out for now.
Is West Indies cricket losing out on big names like you?
Yes, definitely. There are a lot of key players who miss due to circumstances. The relationship has been bad and the players had to make their own choices and move on in their careers. I can speak for myself. There are misunderstandings and they just can’t sit back. There are some good youngsters, so I am hopeful they will get to play Test cricket. I am hopeful to see more stars from this generation, making a name for themselves.
It is about relationship. Sometimes if there are confrontations with senior players, it doesn’t look nice. At the same time, the youngsters who are watching this will do the same thing when they become senior players. It’s a process. Viv Richards, Clive Lloyd, Brian Lara all fell out with the Board. We saw all this when we were youngsters and then we fell out. When we leave, we have a situation with a young Bravo now. So, it is an ongoing process. It hurts and the people are missing out.
They have lost out on a lot of fans within the West Indies cricket arena because they wouldn’t come out to watch anymore. They hate what’s happening.
There is a proposal to regulate bat’s thickness…
It doesn’t matter. Give me a toothpick, a knife or a fork, I will still hit sixes. Size doesn’t matter. Trust me, it is all about the weapon. They can cut down my size, but they can’t cut down my sixes.
It is done to restore the balance between bat and ball…
That’s rubbish. They can’t say the (present) balance is not good. It’s the man behind the bat. You will still see more entertainment. With the thick bat edges, the bowlers were able to find the edges more often. By cutting down on the edges, it will become more difficult for the bowlers to nick that edge as well. It will not make much of a difference.
Cricket is a batsman’s game, especially T20s. People want entertainment. When you take that away, you will actually lose in that area when you have a lot of low-scoring games. I am not saying (bigger) bats helped in getting high-scoring games because you have a lot of class players who use small bats and still score a lot of runs. Virat doesn’t use a big thick bat. They should actually make the grounds bigger if they want.
Does the ball-tampering rule need more clarity after the Faf du Plessis incident?
I will try too now. I have got a gum this time (laughs). I don’t know, does it help? Trust me, we are West Indies and we are natural. We just use the sweat, it is pure skills.
Who is the real boss of Jamaica, you or Usain Bolt?
I am the king, the universal boss. Bolt is a legend, he is the fastest man in the world. We are kings in our own rights.
Despite partying hard, how do you manage to make it to the match the next day?
Most people don’t know that rest is very important. I sleep all day. So when they see me in the night, I have already got my rest. If I am not playing, I will do my training. We are the West Indies team, we always sleep off before a party. You have to look after your body. You can’t just be playing cricket and party.
If I am in the IPL, I go to bed at 6am. I wake up like 3.30 or 4pm. I practice at a particular time and then stay up all night. We have a gathering after the match and have a drink together. These days there is no party in the IPL which I don’t know why. I watch TV until I feel sleepy.
They need to start the after party. That is the only thing missing. But it is still very interesting… the cheerleaders and entertainment. I think for security reasons they have clamped down on the parties. It is two months of hard work. It is not easy. They are paying big bucks and they need performances. But they need to free up the party a bit more, maan!