CRICKET: 'I had bills to pay' - A hurt Chris Gayle responds to mercenary branding
Joel Campbell, The Voice Writer
THE VOICE (UK):
West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has hit back at critics who have branded him a mercenary over the years.
Gayle, 34, said despite the fact he had been frozen out of the West Indies cricket set-up at times he always had plans to represent his region again and now that he is financially better off, he can do it.
The Jamaica-born left-hander, currently attempting to help the Windies retain their World T20 crown in Bangladesh, added: "I've had that said about me in the past and it's hurtful, by my own fans in the Caribbean and some by others. But they need to know that it's always a cricketer's dream to wear his international colours. That term 'mercenary' will hurt cricket," he said
"These same mercenaries are the ones who are representing all the countries in the World T20s who everyone will be supporting so why use that word?"
Gayle said it was a cricketers right to pursue the best financial options available to them and they would be foolhardy not to consider all possibilities.
"I had bills to pay and all cricketers have the same. We still do," he said.
"T20 is a good way of earning extra income to secure your future and your family's.
"Many people don't get that. I'm more comfortable financial-wise now and I'm looking to play West Indies cricket for a few more years.
"All I wanted to do was come back and play for the West Indies. When I wasn't in the team, I had to play T20s to pay the bills and look at what happened in 2012. We won the World T20 and so many players like myself, [Dwayne] Bravo and Sunil Narine gained from our IPL experiences.
“We have more West Indies players in the IPL now and it's great for [Krishmar] Santokie and Jason Holder to get this experience. And make a living."
Gayle said that looking forward he was intent on making the latter years of his test career count and despite what others may say he firmly believed elite cricketers will always harbour ambitions to represent their country.
"You look at someone like Kevin Pietersen (KP)," he added. "He could have made money for years now playing T20s but he stuck with England. It's national pride.
“Now, maybe he will be going out there and be playing more T20s and making big money but no one believes us when players like us say we always want to play for our country first and foremost.
"The game has changed and there's a lot of cricket being played so T20s do clash with tours and such but we can iron and fix this out. Maybe it's all about proper T20 windows, who knows?
"But I'm sure if England called KP up now he'd jump at the chance to play for his country. That's across the board for players like us. We always would."
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