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Hail Gayle!

One of the many excellent things about the excellent Indian Premier League is the opportunity that it has given to West Indian cricketers to do great things on a cricket field, as impressive as the great things done by their great fast bowlers in the 1970s and 1980s. There are now about half a dozen West Indians making their mark on the IPL. It is no exaggeration to say that what the Indians are doing is saving the West Indies for cricket.

Not that long ago, there was talk of West Indians, dispirited by the failure of their players to do the sort of grafting you have to do to do well in five day international cricket matches in places like England, giving up on cricket altogether, and switching to basketball, or some such American alternative.

Not now. The innings of Chris Gayle in this game, which I am now watching (thank goodness for the recent multiplication of digital TV channels in the UK) on my telly, open mouthed, is already the talk of the West Indies. Got to be. I don’t know what time of day it is over there, but trust me, they are awake and cheering themselves hoarse. As of now, Gayle is 154 not out, off 54 balls. Even if you know nothing of cricket, know this: that’s dynamite stuff. Gayle is only a handful of runs away from breaking the record for the biggest twenty-twenty innings ever, set in the very first IPL game by a guy from New Zealand.

Yes. West Indian IPL Commentator: “This is now the highest score ever in all twenty-twenty cricket.” Gale 161 not out. And counting.

West Indian IPL Commentator: This is now the biggest twenty-twenty total ever. 251-3 and counting. The South African AB de Villiers has just got out for 31, made in 8 balls. South African cricket has been somewhat in the doldrums ever since the Hanse Cronje match-fixing scandal, and the IPL has been a shot in the arm for South African cricket also. They are now the top team in the world, at test cricket. Twenty-twenty mania hasn’t done them any harm either.

Globalisation, commerce, free people spending their own money on what they love, previously poor countries getting rich, individual people in previously poor countries getting rich, by cheering up the entire world – well, my version of the entire world anyway. I love it. Love it. Opposition players all clustering around Gayle to shake his hand. 175 not out. Kiwi Commentator: “You’ve broken record after record tonight. It was one of the best innings anyone here has ever seen.” Amen.

I just wish that more of my fellow countrymen could see all this. The English continue to talk head-in-sand nonsense about the IPL. In this silly piece, David Hopps talks about the IPL being “an essentially trivial Indian T20 tournament”. As so often, the word “essentially”, as the late Kingsley Amis observed many years ago, here means “not”.

There is actually an Englishman playing in this match, Luke Wright of Sussex. And good on him, because he has had a pretty good IPL so far, once he got to play. Good on him today, because he bowled in this game, and his bowling figures were: 4-0-26-1. In a game like this one, those are impressively normal numbers, even if the reason Wright did that well was that he was bowling some of his overs just after Gayle got to a hundred, and Gayle was having a bit of a chill, man.


LATER: The Guardian sums it up.

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6 comments to Hail Gayle!

  • SC

    >There are now about half a dozen West Indians making their mark on the IPL. It is no exaggeration to say that what the Indians are doing is saving the West Indies for cricket.

    Bit of an exaggeration. Gayle is doing incredibly well, but the rest of the Windies IPL players haven’t done much more than they usually do in Test and one-day cricket.

  • I was very pleased to able to catch some of this. Sadly, it was just at the moment Gayle started to chill. Still pretty impressive though. Still, he’s not invulnerable. We (as in the Chennai Super Kings) managed to get him out for a duck in the final a couple of years ago. Heh!

    I suppose we should point out that South African cricket being in the doldrums hasn’t prevented the test side being number one ranked in the world. One wonders what they’ll be like when they get out of the doldrums.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    By doldrums, I meant people in South Africa caring about their team in large numbers. This really took a hit, following Cronje etc. Plus, I did mention they were number one in test cricket.

  • Watchman

    To be fair, the IPL is on ITV4 so easy enough to find – although ITV could publicise this more.

    And considering the same channel is covering a lot of cycling, I find myself commenting twice in a row in favour of ITV – something I doubted I’d ever have to do…

  • Meh, I watched it on Cricinfo, and impressive as it was, it must be taken in the context of T20 cricket, which is fundamentally different from test match cricket or even ODIs. The price of one’s wicket in T20 is pretty much zero, especially when batting first. Concentration is unimportant, and relief will come in an hour regardless. Players pretty much have to whack a six or get out, and if the latter happens, it’s forgotten by the next morning. The contrast with a careful double century played over 5-6 hours of a test match where one’s wicket is gold, or a lightening century to take the game away from the opposition on Day 3, couldn’t be more stark.

    I like the IPL, and have watched almost every match this series either on TV or Cricinfo. It’s good for what it is, but I think it is meaningless to compare achievements in the IPL with those in ODIs or tests: the contexts are so fundamentally different. I liken batting in T20 to a goalkeeper trying to save a penalty: if succeeds he’s a hero, if he fails no blame is attached to him. Batting in tests is like a goalkeeper playing in a normal game situation: if he fails, the ball had better have been unplayable/unstoppable or he has seriously let his side down. Much more pressure, which is why goalkeepers enjoy penalty shootouts and batsmen like the IPL.