Windies need a real Gayle force

2007-12-15 00:00

CHRIS Gayle has arrived in South Africa at the head of a flawed outfit belatedly seeking an opportunity to redeem a tattered reputation. It is not a position he sought. Rather it fell into his lap because he had been around longer than anyone else. Even now it is only a temporary appointment. As it has turned out, the injury to Ramnaresh Sarwan has been a blessing in disguise. Sarwan has been a disappointment as a batsman and as a leader. He has not managed to change impoverished mindsets, crassly arriving 30 minutes late to his first team meeting as captain. School coaches are well advised to leave behind all latecomers early in proceedings, the better to instil discipline and thence spirit.

With sportsmen like Gayle, though, it is always the faults that first catch the eye. He also has many fine qualities. No ball driven by him has enjoyed the experience. Whereas others might stroke between fieldsmen with an imperial gesture or place into a gap after due deliberation, Gayle gives the ball a leather-damaging and turf-burning crack. But he can be frustrating. Somehow he manages to hit the ball hard, though never violently, without giving anything away. Over the years he has played with the air of the unconcerned man. Neither success nor failure has much effect on him. He seems to be too cool to care.

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