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Gayle Has To Feel Sorry For Himself

By Orin Davidson
Chris Gayle must be feeling like Mike Tyson, who achieved unmatched wealth and fame from the ring but now has nothing to show for his exploits.

Chris Gayle

No one would’ve imagined that the most destructive innings in Twenty20 cricket competition brought its perpetrator defeat instead of an ecstatic win in the sport’s latest World Cup addition on Tuesday.

Gayle created history by bashing the South Africa bowlers to all parts of the Wanderers ground for the first century in that form of the sport, but it became a one-man show, which in reality never wins games in any type of team sport.

West Indies instead, rewarded Gayle with one of the most pitiful fielding performances you would see by an established international team.

Not to say their bowling was any better, it was almost just as bad and rest of the batting disappointing to say the least.

Like Brian Lara did in the curtain raiser of the 2003 World Cup, Gayle got the Twenty20 version off to an electric start but unlike then, West Indies came out losers, which must have left the latter wondering whether it was worth all the energy cracking a century off less than half the number of balls.

Instead of feeding off the Jamaican’s blinder, the other batsmen were in such awe with his plethora of sixes and fours , they were content to be bystanders and the innings eventually dried up after his departure.

West Indies scored 205 runs and Gayle’s contribution was nearly two thirds at 117.

Fellow opener Devon Smith did as much as you could expect from him, a useful 35 but at the time of his dismissal, the total was careening away at 145, at well over 10 runs an over.

Captain Graeme Smith was at his wits end and the TV commentators were saying strike bowler Shawn Pollock was happy to be getting out of the attack.

In comes Marlon Samuels next .
Now, this is a guy with almost as sharp an eye and speed of hands as Gayle, but instead of showing the world, he is about to make better use of such rare qualities, he decided to stand and deliver and immediately dumped a catch into mid-off’s hands.

You have to understand , these guys are either yet to appreciate the merit of using one’s feet to attack bowling , more so in limited overs games, or are content to be hit or miss batsmen. Gayle is as much at fault in this regard, which is why these blockbuster innings are far and few between , and which does not make him the consistent scorer every Jamaican and fellow West Indian expect him to be, simple because he doesn’t have the feet to so do.

You can bet he will not repeat another such monster innings the remainder of this competition.

Samuels is not a Gayle-force his compatriot is, but he can be more productive if he uses his feet to hit over the top like Smith and the South Africans do, instead of standing and swinging.

Ramnaresh Sarwan, the regular number four, chose to bat at six instead, which hardly helped.
If he does not feel batting sharp enough because of his longer layoff from competition, he should’ve opened the batting in both of the two warm- up games.

He must remember that the Brian Lara era is over and to refresh it by sending others in ahead of himself, as the former captain often did, is a recipe for failure.

Sarwan is one of the team’s best batsmen and regardless of the competition, whether 20 or 50 overs or Tests, he has to go in early.

Shiv Chanderpaul came in and blocked everything and ran, to give Gayle the strike, which might be the right strategy for a few balls. But Shiv has to realize that both batsmen have to fire collectively soon enough, because this is Twenty20 cricket and one man cannot do all the bashing.

That said, West Indies’ batting was hardly the cause of their defeat. Their catching and fielding and bowling in that order, wrenched a demoralizing defeat from the jaws of a huge victory.

The guys are awfully rusty in the field which tells you immediately that this is a team crying out for the preparatory camp Sarwan was asking for from the inception, but never got.

If Bravo, first of all had caught Herschelle Gibbs in his early 20s and later on Chanderpaul before the batsman reached 50, this result would’ve gone the way of the game four years earlier at the same Wanderers ground.

Bravo and Chanderpaul are two of the team’s best catchers close to or deep from the wicket, but they lacked the intensity from fielding drills that makes you sharp mentally and physically for combat

Gibbs was impossible to dislodge thereafter as his 90 off 55 balls proved just as lethal as Gayle’s 57-ball 117.

But you cannot resist giving it up to Smith big time. The man is a true warrior who battled on with a suspected broken forehand, from a position which West Indies failed to capitalize on.

The South Africa captain was allowed to bang four fours and a six as the pressure Darren Powell created with that first ball bouncer to his right for-hand, went up in smoke in a slew of leg side wides throughout the rest of West Indies’ 20 overs.

The man who led a successful chase of a world record 400-odd in 50 overs two years ago and repeated a similar onslaught on Australia two days back, inspired his batsmen to follow the lead
In the end South Africa turned West Indies’ 10 runs an over target into a cake walk.

It left the Caribbean team nursing another meltdown, and don’t be surprised if they don’t recover the rest of the way in this inaugural Twenty20 World Cup.
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