BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, CMC – Veteran left-hander Chris Gayle has earmarked the ICC World Cup later this year as the swansong of his illustrious one-day career, and hopes he can help underdogs West Indies lift the title at the showpiece in England.
The 39-year-old, who celebrates his 40th birthday in September, told reporters here Sunday it was time to hand over to the new generation of cricketers who he described as “great youngsters” with the ability to “create a lot of problems for opponents”.
“Definitely at the World Cup I’m looking to draw the line there or should I say, cut the string there and then let the youngsters have some fun. They can take it and I can sit back and go into the party stand and watch them having some fun as well,” Gayle said.
“Lifting the World Cup trophy – I think the youngsters owe that to me so they have to play that for me definitely and try and give me the trophy. But I’ll be looking to make my input as well.”
The talismanic opener and former Test captain has played 284 ODIs since his debut 20 years ago, amassing 9727 runs at an average of 37, to be second only behind Brian Lara on the all-time West Indies run-scorers list.
Gayle has counted 23 centuries – the most by any Windies player – and his 165 wickets earned with his underrated off-spin, as left him fifth on the all-time Windies list.
The charismatic Jamaican, who has played in four previous World Cups, said though West Indies were not considered among the elite one-day teams, they could still spring a surprise at the May 30 to July 14 tournament.
“It’s always a possibility. We have a great team. I don’t know what the squad will be like when it comes around to World Cup but whatever squad they come up with it’s always going to be a fantastic squad,” Gayle said.
“We have some great youngsters and those guys can create a lot of problems for opponents and that will sort of take the pressure off me as a veteran but at the same time, I always try to make my input as well and make sure I stand there and be counted as well.”
Gayle was recalled for the five-match series against England starting at Kensington Oval here on Wednesday, after last featuring for the Windies seven months ago.
And after signing off on his domestic 50-overs campaign with a hundred for his native Jamaica at the same venue last October, Gayle said he was hoping for a repeat, especially since the England series was possibly his last on home soil.
“It’s good to be back. This is my first net [session] since being back. I’ve been down with the flu but it’s good to be back with the boys and actually looking forward to playing against England on Wednesday,” he said.
“It’s a big year for me. Hopefully for 2019 I can finish on a great note. I’ve been playing cricket in various other tournaments but being back in West Indies colours that’s more important and I’m actually looking to go forward.”
He added: “It’s a possibility they (fans) get the last chance to see the Universe Boss on local soil. The last game I played here was my last 50-overs game for Jamaica and I got a hundred so it would be nice to continue where I left off here in Barbados and entertain the home fans as much as possible.
“I’m in good condition so I’m not too worried. The body is feeling good which I’m pleased with. I still have it in me and the most important thing is I’m still enjoying it so I’m looking forward to it.”