On Tuesday, as soon as Chris Gayle walked down the steps of the pavilion, he attracted quite a few glances and even posed for a few pictures with children who had gathered at the Wankhede Stadium to witness the pre-game routine ahead of West Indies’ World T20 clash against England on Wednesday.
There were autograph hunters and photograph seekers looking to get close to Gayle. At one point, a group of policemen posted around the ground made a sprint to get his autograph.
As he took to the nets, his big hits saw the fans scurrying for cover. While they were ducking for cover, they will hope Gayle replicates the same big hits on Wednesday.
These shots come naturally to Gayle. However, a few months ago, adulation was far from him. He was admonished by fans and peers for making an ‘indecent’ proposal to a female sports reporter during the Big Bash League. He faced a fine and the incident has put his future in the Big Bash league under cloud.
Gayle is not the only member of the West Indies squad to have courted controversy.
Andre Russell’s participation in the tournament was in doubt after it emerged that he missed three drug tests.
In fact, most members of the squad were doubtful till February 14 when a stalemate over player contracts finally ended. The squad is missing key T20 players, Kieron Pollard and Sunil Narine, who pulled out of the tournament.The team has hardly enjoyed success in the recent past. Their last series win in any format came in August 2014 when they beat Bangladesh in Tests and One-dayers.
In contrast, England, their opposition on Wednesday, have been enjoying an upward curve over the past year. Following their dismal show in the 2015 World Cup, where they got knocked out in the first round, the Englishmen have turned a new leaf under new coach Trevor Bayliss.
The focus seems to be on the game, and the players have hardly strayed. In comparison to West Indies, their performances seem stellar. In the last year, a new brand of fearless cricket has been associated to the team. Led by Eoin Morgan, the team has assumed a fine run all through last year.