When Chris Gayle blooms, its nightmare time for bowlers. While many presume they can plan and out think him to claim his wicket, there is no stopping Gayle when he gets going.
Here’s demystifying just how Gayle can be so destructive. It’s all a matter of capitalising on his strengths while carefully hiding his lacunae in many aspects of batting.
Let’s start from the way he stands at the crease. Gayle has an open stance. People who stand open chested are generally deft at playing on the leg-side but Gayle has managed to even dominate on the on-side with his stance.
The stance ensures he has enough room to hit the ball cleanly. He is one player who collects the majority of his runs in the front ‘V’ (from wide long-on to wide long-off). He hates running between the wickets and focuses on acquiring runs through boundaries. His brute strength provides him the confidence to clear the field without having to do much in the crease. His is more or less a stand and deliver motion. Startutory warning: Don’t try this at home, the ball may just hit where it shouldn’t!
Cricket coaches say that when a batsman lifts (that is hits the ball in the air), his body should also follow through in the direction of the shot. Gayle’s open chested approach ensures he is half way already into the shot. Half his posture is already open so when he connects the ball his entire body rotates in the direction of the shot, providing him momentum while making the angle of his shot far steeper than a closed stance could achieve.
Gayle has seemingly restricted movement on crease unlike cricketers such as AB de Villiers, Sachin Tendulkar, Virat Kohli etc and looks like he is almost stuck to the crease. He waits for the ball to be pitched in his hitting zone. Once he spots the ball coming into hiss sweet spot, he clears his front leg a little and makes additional room for himself so that he could make space for his brutal batswing to complete the motion. Even if the ball is a little fuller, he shovels it over the bowlers head with ease because he generally stands deep into the crease.
Power is not the only positive for Gayle. Gayle is a lethal combination of brawn and brain. He likes to spend time on the pitch. He plays on the bowlers’ brain. A good ball bowled by a bowler could be the perfect ball for Gayle to dispatch into the stands.
But he then seems to figure that he might not get the fuller ball again. As such, he stands a little deep into the crease and waits for the short-pitched delivery. Further, playing the pull shot is easier for him as his body is already half-open. Since most of the bouncers are aimed onto the body and these are juicy picking for Gayle. He rotates with the ball and completes the swing of the bat.
When facing spinners, he jumps out and gets his front leg out of the way. Gayle is not amongst those batsmen who try and reach to the pitch of the delivery. Instead he relies on his power to blast the ball far better than timing alone could.