West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has confirmed he will retire from one-day internationals after this summer’s World Cup but is willing to lend his star power to the England and Wales Cricket Board’s new 100-ball competition.
The 39-year-old Jamaican has racked up 284 ODIs since his debut almost 20 years ago and will quit the 50-over format after one final tilt at silverware.
Gayle, preparing to take on England in a five-match series starting in Barbados on Wednesday, said: “In 50-over cricket, definitely the World Cup (is the end). I’m looking to draw the line there – or should I say cut the string – let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them.
“It is a big year for me, to be honest. I hope 2019 can finish for me on a great note.”
Asked if he might bow out in grand fashion as a World Cup winner, the big-hitting left-hander said: “Absolutely, the youngsters owe it to me. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. But I’ll be looking to put my input in as well.”
Gayle will continue to be available for Twenty20s, banking a regular stream of franchise deals and a short-form World Cup in Australia in 2020, but he is also open to the ECB’s divisive new tournament.
The 100-ball competition will also debut in 2020 and Gayle made it clear he would be happy to bring his own unique brand of entertainment if drafted.
“Well, if I don’t start it, it won’t be a tournament,” he said.
“I guess England should invite me over. Then I’ll explode the tournament and say ‘thank you guys; bring in a youngster now’.
“I’ll set the trend for you like I did in all tournaments around the world. Fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens.”
The ECB is keen to attract more women and families to its grounds when the new format launches and it remains to be seen whether Gayle would be an attractive option, given the controversial end to his time in Australia’s Big Bash.
He has not featured in that tournament since being dropped by Melbourne Renegades following a pitch-side interview with Mel McLaughlin, during which he told her “don’t blush baby”.
Gayle certainly shows no sign of disappearing quietly from the stage, dialling up his trademark self-aggrandisement in a pre-series media call at the Kensington Oval.
Asked if he still went by his self-appointed ‘Universe Boss’ nickname, he said: “Of course man. That will never change man! I will take that to the grave.
“I’m always looking to put on a show. England fans love to see the Universe Boss exploding and entertaining you guys as much as possible here in the Caribbean. In the UK as well.
“I don’t know who is opening the bowling for England but any bowler is going to beware of Chris Gayle. That doesn’t change because he is 39 now.
“They are going to be saying ‘Yes, he’s got some grey hairs in his beard, let’s get him now, this is the perfect time to get the Universe Boss now he is 39’.
“But I’m in good condition to be honest. I’m still working on my six pack.”
Invited to reflect on his achievements in the game, Gayle was unwilling to entertain a shred of self-doubt, adding: “I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course. I can’t complain. T20s, ODIs, Tests…. You’re looking at a great man.”