Its all in the mind

– Chris Gayle credits mind games for New Zealand success

CHRIS GAYLE has revealed the secret behind his high-scoring consistency in the recent series against Pakistan and New Zealand.
The West Indies captain says he talks to himself.

He is adamant that  mental preparation is the key to his success and he undertakes it on his own, without the need for any psychological specialist.
“I’m not crazy but I talk to myself,” he confided to the media after the last match of the New Zealand tour in Napier on Tuesday. Jokingly asked whether he talked back to himself, he replied: “Sometimes”.

“It’s my way of working on the mental side,” he added. “I analyse their (opposition) bowling and what attack I’ll be up against and those sorts of things. I’ll do that for the series against England as well.”

“Once I’m ready mentally, trust me, I can guarantee that I’ll get some runs,” he said.
Gayle gave an insight into some of what he has to deal with in the middle.
During his masterly 135 in Tuesday’s fifth and final ODI that pushed him to No.1 in the ICC rankings he took a few early blows to the body and forearm from fast bowler Kyle Mills. Later, Mills came down the pitch and spoke to him.
“Basically, he was trying to play a mind game with me,” Gayle recalled. “He was saying to me, if I pitch up this ball, where you’re going to hit it, if I pitch it short where you’re going to hit it.”

“I just told him to wait and see what happens but, whatever you do, make sure you get it right.”
Looking forward to the England series that starts with the first Test in his native Jamaica on February 4, Gayle said that playing at home always brought “a bit more pressure” on him.

“I’ll try to overcome that and work around certain things so that I’ll be ready for England,” he explained. “I’ve still got to train and improve my game skills and these sorts of things.”

He expected England to be a tougher opposition than New Zealand in the series of four Tests, one 20/20 and five ODIs from February 4 to April 2.
Even though he was disappointed the West Indies didn’t come out of the New Zealand tour victorious, Gayle felt his team had “achieved a lot” in doing better than the last two teams to have toured here, in 1999-2000 and 2006.

“Although quite a few didn’t get among the runs, it was a learning process for them,” he said. “They should go back home, play some good first-class matches and make the best use of the opportunities when they come around again.”

Gayle, now 29 and a veteran of 75 Tests and 191 ODIs, had his best tour since first coming into the West Indies team in 1999.
In 12 matches of all formats – two Tests, eight ODIs and two 20/20s – he scored 868 runs at an average of 72.33 with one Test and three ODI hundreds.
Along the way, his 197 in the second Test against New Zealand carried past 5,000 runs in Tests, his 135 on Tuesday made him the fourth West Indian, along with Brian Lara, Desmond Haynes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul, to top 7,000 ODIs runs.
It was his 19th ODI hundred, placing him level with Lara among West Indians.
There was a new sense of composure to his approach without compromising the devastating power that has always been the hallmark of his batting and has made him one of the most prolific six-hitters in the game. The count in all matches on this double-tour was 34.

While he spent eight hours, 35 minutes over his crucial 197 in the second Test, he still equalled the West Indies record of seven sixes in a Test innings.

The first 50 of his 135 on Tuesday required 57 balls, the last 39 only 19. One of his five sixes was a monster hit off Mark Gillespie that sent the ball out of the ground, over the road and onto the roof of a nearby bungalow.
He might even have been talking to himself at the time.