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Holder hails Gayle as veteran back-pedals on retirement

Published:Thursday | June 27, 2019 | 12:31 AM


It was like West Indies skipper Jason Holder was discovering a surprise gift, hearing the news Chris Gayle planned to play on after the World Cup.Holder’s eyes lit up, and he smiled broadly when the subject turned from the must-win World Cup game against India to the prospect of 39-year-old Gayle sticking around to play a series of one-day internationals against India in August and possibly a Test match on home soil.

Gayle is a larger-than-life character, and Holder laughed when he reflected yesterday on the star batsman’s latest surprise.“He didn’t really say anything in the dressing room. But, yeah, it’s great, and it’s great for cricket,” said Holder, who found out about the retirement back-pedal from the team’s media manager. “It’s good to have Chris around.

“He’s got a lot to offer still. Hopefully, his body can hold up. Hopefully, he can be on the field a bit longer for West Indies.”Asked for how much longer Gayle could continue representing the West Indies, Holder said he’d have to check in first with the veteran Jamaican.Gayle has scored 25 centuries in 295 ODI matches since his debut in 1999, and 15 centuries in 103 test matches. He averages 38 in the 50-over format, and 42 in the five-day format. When he goes big, he goes really big.

His Test high score is 333 and his ODI-high 215 against Zimbabwe in 2015 contained 16 sixes, both World Cup records which have been subsequently broken.He retired from ODIs for a while, but returned for another shot at the World Cup, and his impact on the home series against England in February and March gave a young Caribbean squad belief in its ability to beat the highly-ranked teams.West Indies started well, skittling Pakistan for 105 and then having defending champions Australia reeling, but lost that game and haven’t won since. The five-run loss to New Zealand here last Saturday came down to one shot — Carlos Brathwaite caught on the boundary for 101 trying to hit a six for victory.Gayle scored 87 against New Zealand, his highest score of the tournament to date.

Promising more

He’s promising more against India, and in the following two games which West Indies need to win to have any chance of reaching the play-offs.Asked, with potentially three games to go, where he believed he sat on the long list of West Indies batting greats, the self-described ‘Universe-Boss’ ranked himself among the best.“I’m definitely up there with the greats without a doubt,” he said. “Like I say, I enjoy each and every moment of West Indies, playing for West Indies. Like I said, it’s still not the end.”He said he’d shared some quality moments with some of the best cricketers of all time, starting his international career when the likes of pace greats Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose were still playing, and having Lara as his first captain.