(WICB) Gros Islet, St Lucia – It is not often someone can top Chris Gayle’s awesome power in the Twenty20 format, but Chris Barnwell proved he had the formula as he played the lead role in the Christopher Show on Saturday night.
Gayle again showed why he is rated as the most powerful batsman in world cricket, with the most brutal and biggest innings in the four-year history of the Caribbean T20. The 33-year-old smashed 122 off 61 balls to become the first man to reach a ton in the tournament. The previous highest score was 99 not out by Chadwick Walton of Combined Campuses and Colleges.
He blasted 12 sixes – eclipsing the record nine he hit against CCC on Friday on his way to a world record ninth Twenty20 century. Gayle also increased his career six-hit count to a whopping 336 in 127 matches.
Gayle’s score was a large portion of the 183-6 Jamaica made against Guyana in what turned out to be an action-packed cliffhanger Play-off. The 5,000 fans were kept on the edge of their seats and when Barnwell cracked 88 off 49 balls the Guyanese section broke out into wild celebration.
He hit the ball to all parts of the field and cleared the boundaries four times in what was the best run chase in the tournament to date. Guyana ended on 187-4 as Leon Johnson’s winning hit went for the maximum as they booked a spot in Sunday night’s final against rivals Trinidad and Tobago.
Barnwell said his only focus was simply on winning. “It’s not a matter of me competing with Gayle. I don’t think there is anyone in the world at the moment who can hit the ball as hard and as far as Chris Gayle. I didn’t want to compete with him, I just wanted to bat and win the match for my people, my Guyana,” said Barnwell, who is the nephew of former Guyana batsman Andrew Lyght.
“We always had the belief in the dressing room that we could win this match. In this dressing room there is a strong belief that we can do anything and win from any position in which we find ourselves. We had our target of 160 before we the start of the match so we felt we were just 20 runs out and we knew we could get that on this pitch, which is very good for batting.
“For me personally, it’s all about the belief. I have been batting well from the nets back home in Guyana and I transferred that for to the matches here in the tournament. I had some good knocks in the matches before but I have to say this is the best I have played,” Barnwell said.
This was the highest score of Barnwell’s Twenty20 career and took him to 213 runs at a strike rate of 147 for the tournament. He is second behind Darren Bravo, who has 225 at a strike rate of 151. Gayle is the other batsman over 200 – with 207 in two innings at a strike rate of 197.
“Shiv [Chanderpaul] inspired me and gave me the belief that I could go out and deliver. He has been offering a lot of advice to the players in the team about how to go about our innings and it has been paying off for us.”
Guyana qualified for Grand Final on Sunday where they will face two-time defending champions Trinidad & Tobago. Guyana were the first winners of the Caribbean T20 when they took the title back in 2010.