There are more than 8,800 reasons why Chris Gayle deserves total respect, and they are all runs.
That’s the total number of runs the buccaneering West Indian has scored in Twenty20 cricket, and his unequalled performances include no fewer than 17 centuries in this short format of the game. There is no doubt he is the Universe Boss, by name and nature.
He has been a superstar for Royal Challengers Bangalore ever since he joined the franchise as an injury replacement for Dirk Nannes in 2011. He has played for Kolkata Knight Riders in the early years of the IPL, scoring a total of 463 runs at a strike rate of 141.59, but surprisingly he was unsold in the 2011 auction; his base price was $400,000, and, as I remember, there were concerns about his availability for the entire league because of international commitments.
In any event, Chris did arrive at RCB and the rest is history. Over and over again, innings after innings, he has stood tall and literally bludgeoned the ball around every ground in the country, entertaining crowds and emerging as the most acclaimed superstar of Twenty20 cricket.
His IPL numbers are simply amazing: in 2011, for RCB, he scored 608 runs at a strike rate of 183.13; in 2012, for RCB, he scored 733 runs at a strike rate of 160.74; in 2013, for RCB, he scored 708 runs at a strike rate of 156.29; in 2014, for RCB, he scored 96 runs at a strike rate of 106.9; and in 2015, for RCB, he scored 491 runs at a strike rate of 147.44.
We may not have won an IPL title during this period --- and that fact burns each and every one of us within the organisation --- but we have always competed and have played our full part in many magnificent cricketing occasions both at the Chinnaswamy and elsewhere, and Chris has stood centrestage.
His innings of 175 against Pune Warriors in April 2013, the highest score in IPL history, was also a batting masterclass of epic proportions.
It may be true that the ball has not been running his way so far this year, but, as they say, form is temporary and class is permanent. He has always been a central member of RCB, he always seems to be in a great mood and he always brings a huge amount of energy to the entire organisation.
Once the Universe Boss, always the Universe Boss.
(The writer plays for the Royal Challengers Bangalore)