Chris Gayle - Still the best!
Multiple-time RJRGleaner National Sportsman of the year nominee Christopher Gayle, in 2017 maintained his status as the best-ever Twenty20 batsman in history by again blasting hundreds of runs and setting records in the Bangladesh Premier League and Caribbean Premier League.
The holder of the most centuries in the format since it was introduced in 2003, led the Rangpur Riders to the title over Dhaka Dynamites in Bangladesh last December after scoring an unbeaten 146 off a mere 69 balls, inclusive of a world-record 18 sixes. The world-record of sixes surpassed that which he set in 2013 when playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League when he hit 17 in an undefeated knock of 175 against Pune Warriors.
The innings also saw Gayle taking 57 balls to post triple figures, with his final 46 runs coming off just 12 deliveries.
It also took him past 11,000 runs in the shortest format of the game and made him the first player to score 20 centuries in T20 cricket.
To put that figure in context, Big Bash trio Brendon McCullum, Luke Wright, and Michael Klinger are next on the 'most hundreds' list with seven apiece.
The title-winning innings followed a similarly breathtaking knock of 126 off 51 balls, which he made in the preceding elimination play-offs against Khulna Titans.
Having scored two fifties in the tournament prior to the play-offs, Gayle finished with 485 runs at an average of 53.88 and a monstrous strike rate of 176.36 to emerge as the leading runs scorer of the league.
This followed his exploits in the Caribbean Premier League a few months earlier, where in captaining his new franchise team St Kitts and Nevis Patriots to the final, he emerged as the tournament's third highest runs -getter.
The year also saw Gayle returning to international cricket after a two-year hiatus from representing West Indies due to a protracted dispute with Cricket West Indies.
He returned for a one-off Twenty20 international against India in Kingston in July, which was followed up with Twenty20 and one-day appearances away to England in September, and one-day and Twenty20 showings against New Zealand.
In England, the 38-year-old scored a blazing 40 off 21 balls as world champions West Indies beat England by 21 runs in their one-off Twenty20, while in the one-dayers he scored 37, 94 and two. Still battling with injuries, Gayle subsequently went to New Zealand in one-day action, making 22 and four before following up with 12 and zero in their Twenty20 International clashes.
Gayle's one-day tallies led him to 9420 runs in One Day Internationals at an average of 37.23, including 22 hundreds, and a strike rate of 85.56, with his Twenty20 International equivalents being 1589 from 55 matches at 39.80, inclusive of two centuries, and a prolific strike rate of 145.11. Gayle, one of three cricketers to be nominated, will know who will be crowned national sportsman of the year 2017 when the awards is held tomorrow at The Jamaica Pegasus Hotel.
The other male nominees are sprinter Usain Bolt, sprint hurdler Omar McLeod, fellow cricketers - spin bowler Nikita Miller and wicketkeeper Chadwick Walton; football goalkeeper, Andre Blake, and squash player, Christopher Binnie.