World Cup mavericks: Chris Gayle, the chill marauder

The West Indies' big-hitter knows what he wants next—a Grammy award

60-Chris-Gayle Illustration: Job P.K.

Remember Prasanth Parameswaran? His career went poof in seven balls. The reason: A marauding Chris Gayle. In a 2011 IPL match in Bengaluru, Gayle ripped into the Kerala pacer, hitting 37 runs off one over (there was a no ball). Royal Challengers Bangalore reached the target of 125 in the 14th over.

Gayle was known to unleash such violence on the pitch. Hailed as arguably the greatest T20 batter of all time―he has more than 14,500 runs and has played for a staggering 39 teams―Gayle often brought this carnage to ODIs as well. Take, for instance, the 2015 World Cup. In the match against Zimbabwe, Gayle hit 16 sixes in his innings of 215. It was, at the time, the only double ton in World Cups. Overall, he has played five editions, amassing almost 1,200 runs and picking 16 wickets with his off spin. Off the pitch, though, Gayle was the epitome of chill, looking like he had spent all his days with Snoop Dogg. At this year’s IPL, when he made his commentary debut, there was more laughter than analysis. He even went over to the Bhojpuri panel and spoke a few words in the language.

But this casual vibe is not without its pitfalls; in 2016, Gayle was pulled up for flirting with an Australian anchor on air. Watching it could make you either cringe or validate your support of the six-pack-flexing, alpha male ‘Universe Boss’ persona he has created on social media. This version of Gayle once installed a stripper pole in his Jamaican house and told his followers that, without one, they were not cricket “players”.

But perhaps this need to revel in his success comes from his past. In 2005, he had to undergo a heart surgery. In the years to follow, he was periodically at loggerheads with the cricket board. Also, having made the most ODI runs for the West Indies―10,425―and also being the most capped player in the format, he is at times left out of conversations that feature Brian Lara and Viv Richards.

So Gayle is in a world of his own, and his latest goal is to win a Grammy. He has sent his album Tropical House Cruises to Jamaica: Asian Edition for Grammy consideration. He is featured on two of the tracks.

Oh, there is also speculation that Bollywood may be calling.