Chris Gayle is the ultimate party animal, on and off the field. He kicked off the World Twenty20 with a rollicking 100 off 48 balls against England at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
With this, he became the only batsman to score two centuries in the World Twenty20. The previous one, a blistering 117 against South Africa in 2007, was just the beginning. And, Gayle parties the hardest in T20s, be it internationals, the Indian Premier League, the Big Bash League or the Caribbean Premier League.
Coach Phil Simmons, who is still trying to understand Gayle’s batting, says: “To destroy an attack like that, I think the only person in my time that I would put him with is Sir Vivian [Richards].”
In perfect contrast to Gayle is Joe Root, the English batsman who has also been on song this tournament. While Gayle demolishes, Root builds. While Gayle has a habit of courting controversies, Root is mortified when reminded of his one altercation—Australian batsman David Warner punched him in a pub in Birmingham during the 2013 Ashes series.
England’s batting linchpin, at number three, Root believes in batting though the innings. He scored a brisk 48 in a losing effort against the West Indies and was the architect of England's victory against South Africa, scoring 83 off 44 balls to successfully chase down 229. Said England's captain Eoin Morgan: “He is the most complete batsman we have ever had. He is incredible, really. It shows his class and composure; he can play a match as if it is a 50-over game or a Test match.”
Perhaps that is why purists feel the future of the game is in safe hands. Root, along with Australian captain Steven Smith and India's Virat Kohli, is a delectable run hoarder. Adaptability in all three formats, a rock-solid technique, an approach based on “proper” cricket and a single-minded focus on improvement—these are the factors that bind Root, Kohli and Smith.
Said former Pakistan captain and current Afghanistan coach Inzamam-ul-Haq: “His best quality is that he rotates the strike very well and plays according to the situation. That is the hallmark of a very good player.”