Windies star Gayle could make unwanted World Cup history

By Sports Desk May 19, 2019
Chris Gayle. Chris Gayle.

Windies talisman Chris Gayle is known for setting records but the big left-hander could be heading for one he may not want when he makes his appearance later this month at the ICC World Cup.

The 39-year-old batsman is expected to earn his 290th ODI cap as a Windies opener, having scored 10,151 runs.  The appearance will also be the player’s fifth at a World Cup.

 If the Windies do not win the tournament and with the player already slated to retire immediately after it, Gayle would join a select group of players to have played the most World Cup without winning.  The big left-hander is in danger of being the ninth player to have accomplished this unwanted record.  Some of the most notable names include the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Shahid Afridi and Jacques Kallis.  Regionally Gayle will join legends Brian Lara and Curtly Ambrose. 

Ambrose played in 17 World Cup games across three editions from 1992 to 1999 and had 24 wickets at just 20.79, conceding a miserly 3.03 runs per over.  Lara is the third highest run-scorer in World Cups with 1225 runs from 34 matches spread across 5 editions, starting from 1992.

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    Few could fail to be amazed by the flat-out, raw hitting power or the devastating ability to single-handedly change a game that Windies T20 star Andre Russell possesses, but as far as being the new Chris Gayle or Brian Lara, he’s not quite yet there.

    Now, the point recently made by veteran West Indies all-rounder Dwayne Bravo is not lost.  After a solid performance against Sri Lanka with both bat and ball, which in the end delivered the team a comfortable win, Bravo sees Dre Russ as having picked up the mantle as the team’s go-to guy.  The role played to great effect by both Gayle and Lara for the regional team over multiple formats.

    To some extent, Russell has, on occasion, delivered for the Windies.  And, if we were speaking about club T20 cricket where his many big-time performances have seen him stack up titles right around the globe, there could be little argument regarding the snap assessment. 

    At the international level, however, Russell still trails behind the two greats in one important area; consistency.

    Not that it wasn’t ever true about the two Windies stars against which he is being compared, but too often it seems that Russell has failed to measure exactly what is required in the instant of the game when he arrives at the crease. As a result, he is sent back to hutch, head hung, with helmet in hand soon after.

    A quick look at the averages will show that Russell averages almost 12-runs fewer than Gayle’s average of 32.54 in T20 international cricket. Overall, in T20s he averages 26.95 to Gayle’s 38.20.

     Of course, each man bats at different times in a innings.

    Gayle has far more time to settle in than Russell who comes further down the order.  Even so, one can’t help but suspect that better application could have meant a higher average. 

    In T20Is Russell is yet to register a 100 or 50 in the format, while Gayle has two 100s and 13 half-centuries.  Almost 10 years Russell's senior, Gayle has played more international T20 cricket, but not a lot more. Nine more, in fact, 58 to Russell’s 49.  One would think that with a more consistent approach, Russell would at least have registered a few more half-centuries.

    As far as potential goes, however, the talented Russell could easily have the big two looking over their shoulders in the next few years.

    His wicket-taking ability, which ensures that he is also a key part of the team’s bowling attack, is an element neither Lara or Gayle would have had. 

    Russell also has the ability to be very effective in the ODI format of the game, giving us a glimpse at last year's ICC Cricket World Cup before being hobbled by injury.  During the tournament the quickest batsman, in terms of balls faced, to score 1,000 runs in ODIs, facing only 767 deliveries.

    All that points to the fact that the sky could be the limit for a fully fit, fully focused Russell but he certainly has to deliver on a more consistent basis to fall into the same category of two of the greatest to ever play the game, even as a go-to guy.

  • On this day in sport: Baseball strike ends, Lara leads Windies to victory On this day in sport: Baseball strike ends, Lara leads Windies to victory

    The longest strike in baseball history came to an end on this day in 1995.

    A walkout that lasted for 232 days concluded on March 31, 25 years ago.

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    The strike started in August of the previous year following wrangling over pay, with the rest of the season cancelled as a result.

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    It was on this day in 1995 that MLB commissioner Bud Selig announced an agreement had been reached to end the dispute.

    1997 – Captain Lara leads Windies to victory

    The legendary Brian Lara fist captained West Indies in a 1997 Test match against India.

    It was a thriller, with the hosts securing victory in Bridgetown after India failed to chase down 120.

    Lara top-scored for his team in the second innings, contributing 45 runs, while he also claimed a catch off the dangerous Sachin Tendulkar as the tourists were skittled for 81.

    2001 – Schumacher brothers' Canadian GP one-two

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    Brothers Ralf and Michael enjoyed a respective one-two finish, sharing the podium with Mika Hakkinen.

    Ferrari star Michael went on to win the title with 123 points, 58 clear of nearest rival David Coulthard.

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    Twenty-six years ago, a diminutive but powerful Trinidad and Tobago batsman, long known for his genius, became the highest run-scorer in a single Test innings, overtaking the man, who before his era, was regarded as possibly the finest to ever live.

    Sir Garfield Sobers had a record, 365 not out, standing for 36 years, but on April 18, 1994, Brian Charles Lara cemented his name in history as one of the greatest to ever hold a bat, scoring 375 against England at the Antigua Recreation Ground.

    The moment is worth remembering.

    Before we get to Lara though, let’s look at the people who have held the record over the years. Of course, that ends with Lara, who broke the record for most runs in a Test innings 10 years after his journey to the rarified air of the top of the game.

    In 1884, Billy Murdoch, the Australian captain, became the first man to score a double century, helping his side to 551 in a draw against England with 211.

    It wasn’t until 1903 that Murdoch was overhauled, interestingly enough, by an England captain, Tip Foster. Foster, on debut for England, scored 287 against Australia in a five-wicket win.

    Triple centuries would come next, as another Englishman, Andy Sandham, broke Foster’s record against the West Indies at Sabina Park in 1930, scoring 325 in a mammoth 849. The match ended in a draw.

    The man, who many believe to be the greatest batsman of all time, underpinned by his 99.94 average in Test cricket, Australia’s Don Bradman, would not be left out. He smashed Sandham’s record just three months later, scoring 334 against, you guessed it, England. Bradman was just 21 at the time and scored 309 of those runs on the first day of the Test.

    Another Englishman would hold the record in 1933, Wally Hammond scoring an aggressive 336 not out, slamming 10 sixes and 34 fours.

    Sir Len Hutton, a man who ranks as one of the most technically correct batsmen the game has seen and with a 56.67 average and one of the best batsmen of all time, scored 364 against Australia in 1938.

    20 years later, Sobers ended his innings on 365 not out in an innings and 174-run win over Pakistan at Sabina Park in Kingston.

    After Lara’s 375 in Antigua in 1994, Australia’s Matthew Hayden helped his side to 735-6 declared against Zimbabwe in 2003. Hayden’s innings would include 11 sixes and 38 fours.

    Lara, however, would re-take the record, becoming the first man to hold it twice when he scored 400 not out against England at the same ground he first set it.

    Ten years earlier, however, Lara was in incredible form.

    A few weeks earlier, he had scored more than 500 runs in a first-class innings.

    Lara was a genius who entertained by playing shots that were not risk-free, though for him there was much less risk because he was so good.

    In this innings, Lara would make no mistakes. He showed he could bat for long periods without making them as he did a year earlier when he was run out for 277 against Australia.

    The series in the Caribbean had already been won, with the West Indies leading 3-1. The visitors had won the first Test in Barbados but having lost the next three, England had their pride to play for. Afterall 3-2 looks much better on paper than 3-1.

    Things started well for England with the West Indies losing two wickets for just 12 runs on the morning of the opening day.

    Things were looking good early but Lara was not in the mood to do anything else score runs; lot's of them.

    He scored 164 runs on that day. He was patient to start, going about the business of rebuilding the innings. His first 50 came from 121 deliveries, but he soon accelerated, bringing up his 100 from 180 balls. From there to 150 was also slower, as he took 240 deliveries to get there. He would again accelerate to get to 200.

    The point of all that data is to prove just how in control Lara was of the innings, changing pace at will, pacing himself for the long haul.

    It was textbook batting, it was a teaching moment, as Lara made England’s bowler’s toil.

    "We realised the record was on quite early because of the nonchalant way he went from 100 to 150 to 200. Once he got to about 250, you began to wonder where it was all going to end. By that stage, you have tried all your tactics and your variety, it has not really got you anywhere and it begins to boil down to if he will make a mistake," recalled ex-England paceman, Angus Fraser.

    But the writing was on the wall even before that, according to Phil Tufnell, a former England spinner.

    "I bowled my first over and was putting my jumper back on when Mike Atherton, the England captain, came over to me and said: 'Brian's batting well today, he might break the record.' He was only on 60! Athers was a clever bloke and he got it spot on," said Tufnell.

    But the moment that was most significant wasn’t the score Lara would end up on. It was when England, who had been trying to keep Lara off strike to make him doubt himself or lose his rhythm, tried to stop him from scoring the single it would take to get him past Sobers.

    It didn’t work.

    Bringing in the field when Lara was on 365, Chris Lewis ran up and bowled a short-rising delivery. Lara did not hold back, pulling Lewis to the midwicket boundary with the assuredness that he was no longer a prince, but a king.

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