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Fun, fans make Gayle click

Published:Wednesday | August 6, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Former Prime Minister of Jamaica P.J. Patterson (right) presents Christopher Gayle, captain of the Jamaica Tallawahs, with the winners' cheque shortly after they defeated the Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League Twenty20 cricket match at Sabina Park on Sunday.-Ian Allen/Staff Photographer

Tallawahs skipper big on entertainment despite focus on title

Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer

Jamaica Tallawahs' captain, Chris Gayle, scored the first ever century in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) this season when he smashed an unbeaten 111 against the St Lucia Zouks on June 12. It is among the many T20 records owned by the former West Indies captain, who turns 35 in September.

But for a man who holds many records, one who has virtually done it all in all forms of cricket and is wealthy to boot, winning and having fun is what seems to keep his motor running.

"Just fun," said Gayle following his team's 19-run against the formidable Barbados Tridents at Sabina Park on Sunday; "Fun and the fans."

"I am just enjoying the game, and the feedback from the fans as well just makes you want to stick around longer. The support has been fantastic," he reasoned. "I am just enjoying the game, and as I say, the environment is always a critical thing to a person's career, and that can actually lead you to go on and get stronger and make bigger scores and entertain people. That's what they want to see."

That might sound like a lot of bluster to some, but there is a lot of merit to what Gayle said. Just ask Tallawahs head coach Mickey Arthur, who said the left-handed opening batsman, a giant of a man, has proven to be a big factor in the team's success this season.

"I think Chris has had different motivations in this tournament. He has played exceptionally well," said the 46-year-old South African. "Chris is very proud of Jamaica. He wants to see the Tallawahs do well and he has really put together some good performances for us. He's been outstanding."

What Arthur has found to be even more outstanding is the captain's influence on the emerging players in the team that has six wins from seven matches.

"It's amazing the influence he has on the younger players in the dressing room. And to see him putting in the hard yards, to see him playing well and it meaning so much to him is really just an inspiration for all the young guys, so you can't fault the ways he has been outstanding," Arthur said.

Meantime, since Gayle scored that first century, Tridents hitman Dwayne Smith has eclipsed the mark by becoming the first batsman to score two CPL centuries. Gayle, sporting a thick, greying beard, said Smith's performances, while outstanding, mean very little in the context of this year's competition.

"No, that's not a motivation to me. The title is the motivation. Getting the title, that's important. I didn't score a lot of runs last year and we won it. So if that can happen again, I am fine with that."