There was an emotion in Chris Gayle's voice while talking about how happy he was that West Indies won the series that one would not expect from him © Getty Images (File Photo)
There was an emotion in Chris Gayle’s voice while talking about how happy he was that West Indies won the series that one would not expect from him © Getty Images (File Photo)

Chris Gayle hammered a phenomenal 41-ball 90 to help West Indies to a tremendous four-wicket win against South Africa in the second Twenty20 International (T20I) at Johannesburg on Sunday. Gayle was not done making a statement in the match. He said some pointed things regarding the axing of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard in the post-match presentation. Shiamak Unwalla analyses.

When a batsman scores a 56-ball 119 and his team scores 231 runs in 20 overs, he should expect to be on the winning side more often than not. Faf du Plessis would have been smiling at the innings break thinking he had the match in the bag after doing just that. But he reckoned without the T20 legend that is Christopher Henry Gayle. The left-handed Caribbean Viking thrashed a 41-ball 90 just two days after scoring 77 off 31 deliveries in the first T20I at Newlands.

And yet, for all his massive sixes and bludgeoned boundaries, it was in the post-match presentation that the real Gayle came to the fore. He was asked whether he had a net session in the off day, but he responded with a typical grin, saying “Not a net session, but I had a drink.” This was the Gayle we all know. This was the man bowlers have nightmares about; when little wannabe bowlers do not go to sleep at night, their mothers tell them to be good or Gayle will come for them. He is as much of a Bogeyman to them as Dale Steyn is to batsmen.

But then Gayle went on to show an entirely different side to his persona. We all knew that Gayle was a fun-loving, bohemian, six-hitting hulk of a man; but there is more to him than meets the eye.

“To be honest, I’m so glad we actually won the series…this morning I woke up and saw the World Cup squad, and there was no [Kieron] Pollard and no [Dwayne] Bravo. It really hurts deeply inside, and that’s the reason I actually wanted to win the series. We have the best team here, and to see those two guys excluded is sad for West Indies cricket. If you really believe in our ability, those two guys should be in West Indies cricket, both in South Africa for the 50-over tournament, and in the World Cup squad.”

There was an emotion in his voice while talking about how happy he was that West Indies won the series that one would not expect from him. It was a mixture of happiness at having won and a deep hurt at the fact that Bravo and Pollard were being treated unjustly by the West Indian selectors. Gayle showed that for all their light-heartedness and flamboyance on the field, the West Indian unit is a closely-knit one.

One must remember that when the WICBWIPA-Player dispute first reared its head in India, the entire West Indian team followed Bravo to the toss to show collective solidarity. Since then, things have remained strained between the WICB and the players, while Pollard and Bravo have been made examples of.

In his comments supporting his axed teammates, Gayle has made a statement about how he — and with him the rest of the West Indian team — feels about the treatment meted out to them. Perhaps the sacking of two of their best players will serve as a shock to the system and unite the West Indians even further ahead of the ICC World Cup 2015; something that could focus them and help them carry on their T20I form into the ODIs that will follow.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is a self-confessed Sci-Fi geek and cricket fanatic. You can follow him on Twitter @ShiamakUnwalla)