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T20 World Cup 2021

‘The Bradman of T20’ – Tributes pour in for Chris Gayle as retirement rumours circulate

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Chris Gayle has received tributes and kind words aplenty after West Indies’ T20 World Cup campaign came to an end, but it’s still not clear whether the man who has dubbed himself the ‘Universe Boss’ intends to call time on his career or not.

Dwayne Bravo, Gayle’s long time West Indies teammate, confirmed his intention to retire before the game, but the fixture against Australia proceeded with something of a testimonial feel for both men. Some simply, and not unreasonably, concluded that this would be Gayle’s last game.

The two indulged in a pre-match interview with Ian Bishop, a former West Indies quick, led the team out for the anthems in lieu of captain Kieron Pollard, and each removed their helmets and saluted the crowd after being dismissed. Gayle was also applauded onto the field by his teammates, who lined up on the boundary before play started, and was even given a ceremonial bowl, taking the wicket of Mitchell Marsh and hugging the Australia all-rounder as he walked off.

Gayle is 42 years old, and has come under fire for his performances in recent times. He was involved in a pre-tournament feud with Curtly Ambrose after the latter questioned his automatic selection in the West Indies side, and had a top score of 15 in five innings in the T20 World Cup. Gayle has not confirmed his exit from the international stage, but nor has he cooled the rumours either, describing himself cryptically pre-match as “semi-retired”.

What isn’t in doubt is his status as perhaps the greatest T20 batter there has been, as well as one of the game’s most colourful characters, with all those qualities on show in some form against Australia. He batted in shades and with ‘Universe Boss’ stitched into his spikes, smashed two sixes in three balls before his dismissal, and repeatedly waved to the crowd.

In a way, the atmosphere was an odd one. While West Indies’ elimination from the tournament had already been confirmed, the game was an important one, with victory needed to ensure automatic passage to the Super 12s stage of next year’s T20 World Cup. One way or another, this feels like the end of an era, West Indies having slipped so far one event after becoming world champions in unforgettable style, and with the players who founded their dynasty starting to exit the stage. West Indies will always be the first team to win two global men’s T20 titles, and Gayle will always be inextricably linked to that great side. If this is to be the end, maybe Gayle has earned the right to go out on his own terms, whatever they may be.

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