A tall, well-built man with a swagger walks to the wicket, a broad smile breaking on his face. He takes guard, the bat looking a great smaller against his imposing frame.
The crowd waits with bated breath as the bowler gets to the top of his run-up and begins his big strides to the wicket to deliver the ball. It is short in length and it goes whizzing over mid-wicket well into the stands.
The crowd roars its approval. Chris Gayle takes guard again and waits to send another missile over the crowd.
Now 39 and injury-prone, Gayle will not be seen in the one-day scenario in his country’s colours after the World Cup in England. The Universe Boss will be gone after breaking many records across all three formats of the game.
In his current physical condition, there is only a dim chance that he will take on the challenges of Test cricket. He may play T20s where he is in huge demand in the various leagues around the world.
A controversial figure who spoke his mind, Gayle could have added many more caps across all formats. But he chose not to compromise, peddling his wares in the T20 leagues, achieving fame and making money in the bargain.
What makes Gayle so special and lovable was his ability to hit sixes almost at will and score rapidly. His fluent lofted shots across the ground and his driving through both sides are impeccable.
He also plays square of the wicket with great power. Gayle was mostly stand and deliver, his footwork almost non-existent for years.
But that did not matter to him. He has a sharp eye and a long reach which helps him judge the ball better.
It seems sad that Gayle could not contribute much to West Indies cricket when the West Indies Cricket Board banned him for a year over his criticism of the board and coach Otis Gibson.
He was sidelined at a time when the West Indies could have used his talents to spark a revival. He was in great form too, smashing everything out of sight and scoring heavily.
Players like Gayle, Dwayne Bravo and some others were consigned to the T20 leagues while West Indies floundered badly in all formats of the game. The stubborn WICB refused to budge and West Indies cricket suffered.
Thankfully, the great West Indian revival is now taking shape and Gayle will be there at least one more time in the shorter version.
The people who will miss him most will be the crowds and millions of television viewers. His cool and calm demeanour, great timing and lazy elegance which enthralled them for years will go off stage.
Though he will still showcase his talents in the T20 leagues, the World Cup will lose one of its biggest heroes.
Knowing his penchant for showmanship, Gayle will certainly come up with something special to leave a lasting memory on the world stage.
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