T20 World Cup 2021: “I was just having some fun today”, Chris Gayle says he hasn’t retired yet

Chris Gayle | Getty

West Indies legend Chris Gayle on Saturday (November 6) admitted that he has likely played his final ICC Men’s T20 World Cup match, and will bid adieu to international cricket in front of a home crowd.

During West Indies’ last Super 12 match of the ongoing T20 World Cup against Australia in Abu Dhabi, Gayle was applauded onto the field by teammates when he went out to open the batting.

After the southpaw got out, he walked back to the pavilion while raising his bat, acknowledging the applause from fans and teammates. The 42-year-old was also seen throwing his gloves into the crowd.

Alongside the retiring Dwanye Bravo, Gayle was given a guard of honour on his way off the field at the end of the match. However, the veteran campaigner clarified that he had not made a decision to retire.

“I was just having some fun today. Put everything that happened aside. I was just interacting with the fans in the stand and just having some fun seeing as it’s going to be my last World Cup game,” he said in an interview on ICC’s post-match Facebook live show.

Asked to clarify his statement, Gayle said: “I’d love to play one more World Cup. But I don’t think they will allow me.

“It’s been a phenomenal career. I didn’t announce any retirement but they actually give me one game in Jamaica to go in front of my home crowd, then I can say ‘hey guys, thank you so much.’ Let’s see. If not, I’ll announce it long time and then I’ll be joining DJ Bravo in the backend and say thanks to each and everyone but I can’t say that as yet.”

Having made his international debut in 1999, Chris Gayle represented West Indies in 103 Tests, 301 ODIs and 79 T20Is. His journey is full of challenges, including the need for heart surgery in 2005 after he retired mid-innings of a Test match against Australia.

“I’ve been through a lot of struggle. You mentioned the heart condition but I’ve had a phenomenal career. I want to give thanks to actually be standing here today, aged 42 still going strong. The career has been really great. I’ve had a bit of hiccups here and there. I’ve shed blood, I’ve shed tears in West Indies cricket, you name it, one leg, one hand, I’m still batting for West Indies.

“It was a pleasure always to represent West Indies, I’m very passionate about West Indies. It really hurts bad when we lose games and we don’t get the result and the fans so [much] more is very important to me because I’m an entertainer. When I don’t get the chance to entertain them it really hurt me a lot. You might not that see that expression, I might not show those sort of emotions, but I’m gutted inside for the fans, and especially for this World Cup as well.”

Heading into this World Cup, Gayle was also dealing with the stress of his father’s illness.

“Most people didn’t even know since the first game of the World Cup my Dad has been ill so I have to rush back to Jamaica tonight, see what the doctor have to say about him. He’s batting well, he’s 91 years old, but he’s been struggling a bit. I have to go back home.

“Sometimes as a player we play through a lot of things and we don’t really express these things. We’re here to do a job. Those are the behind the scenes, what you have to deal with as a player and then come and perform.”

Chris Gayle also spoke about the hard work that he has put in to achieve success at the highest level.

“I’m a very determined person. I work hard. A lot of people don’t see the hard work, but I work hard in silence. I’m a talent and I use it wisely.

“I grew up from nothing to something. I didn’t have anything, I didn’t have the luxury when I was growing up so I used those things to motivate me as well. Start my career, ‘Mum I’ll get you a house’, when I make the first money, I’ll buy a car. Those are the things that keep you going. With the stability and the mental strength I have, that carried me right through 20-odd years of playing for the West Indies and playing around the world as well.

“At no time I felt like I’ll actually reach the bar, that I’m bigger or better than anyone else. I was very humble with it as well. I just give thanks to the almighty to actually be standing here telling you all these things.”