Jermaine Lannaman, Gleaner Writer
West Indies star batsman Chris Gayle was moved to tears yesterday as he helped to unveil a cricket nursery named in his honour at his club, Lucas, on Preston Road in east Kingston.
Gayle, who started representing the club a tender age, could be seen wiping tears from his cheek while giving a thank you speech in front of Jamaica Cricket Association executive members, Lucas club officials, family members, friends and well-wishers.
"I want to thank each and everyone who made this day possible. It really, really means a lot to me," said Gayle, his voice cracking up all the time.
"I feel proud and honoured that years after creeping through holes in the (perimeter) wall, running around and learning the game, I am back here, and a nursery is being named after me."
The nursery, located at the northern end of the venue, is equipped with two concrete practice pitches, and clay pitch, and according to the club plans are afoot to have it continuously upgraded.
"It is good to see someone like Gayle coming back to where it all began," said Jamaica Cricket Association president, Lyndel Wright.
Lucas president, Oneil Cruickshank, and long-standing member Brian Breese, who were instrumental in the nursery coming to fruition, said the occasion was long in coming.
"Lucas is rebuilding and with events like this, the recent unveiling of a bust of George Headley, and general refurbishment activities, it augurs well for the future," said Cruickshank.
"We also hope that it (the nursery) will be a motivation for young talented players to train and hone their skills, and who knows, maybe one day we may be able to produce another Chris Gayle," Cruickshank added.
Regain former glory
Gayle who, along with Wright, unveiled 'The Chris Gayle Nursery' signboard, used the occasion to highlight his plans to help the club regain its former glory. He said he plans to donate cricket gear and other equipment, as well as help with renovations, and whenever he is in Jamaica he will participate in various club activities.
"If it was not for Lucas I don't know where I would be today. Maybe on the streets," said Gayle, who also participated in a practice net session with several youngsters.
Many great Jamaican and West Indies players have played for Lucas Cricket Club which was founded in 1895. The greatest of them all is George Headley, rated by many as the best West Indies batsman ever.