Let's face it. There aren't many players in international cricket who'd want to open the bowling attack against the powerful blade of Chris Gayle. After all, no bowler would want to see the best of their length deliveries or yorkers fly away to the fence at a rate of knots. The 'enormous' task of bowling against the 'Gayle-storm' was displayed quite well in the last couple of days at Mirpur, as almost all the bowlers selected in the Bangladeshi Test squad, including that of the debutant Shohag Gazi, were asked the same question: how do you plan to bowl against Gayle? The replies were quite predictable.
Pacer Rubel Hossain claimed that he would try to be in a positive frame of mind before getting a go at the opener. Shohag Gazi on the other hand stated that he would have the advantage of turning the ball away from the lefty. However, judging by the kind of form that Gayle has been in, regardless of the format, a one-dimensional approach to get his wicket doesn't seem to be the best of ideas.
And he has repeatedly proved it. A fiery 150 against New Zealand at home this year, for instance, silenced those who reckoned that the big man was just a Twenty20 specialist. For Gayle, switching formats in cricket has never been a problem.
“I have done this before. I have made the necessary adjustments from one day cricket to Tests. I just need to fine-tune a few things. As of now, I just want to get in the middle and kick-start my batting,” said the Jamaican-born cricketer.
Contrary to popular belief, Gayle was of the opinion that the Twenty20 world cup victory would only help the West Indies perform better in the longer version. “Playing well in the longer format of the game has been a major challenge for us in the last couple of years. Hopefully we can build on the world cup win and take it forward in Test cricket.”
The players from the Caribbean have so far played eight Test matches this year. They lost four and drew two against Australia and England and won the series at home against New Zealand, by two games to nothing, in July. The team is yet to find the kind of willpower in the longer format of the game as they displayed in the recently concluded T20 world cup.
However, coach Ottis Gibson recently stated his intentions of trying to bring back the lost glories of the West Indian and begin the process by improving their rank in the Test table. The Bangladesh series, according to the team management, is an important part of their plan to achieve those ranks.
“It's always difficult to play Bangladesh in Bangladesh. Even though we won the series the last time we came here, it wasn't that easy. The guys (Bangladeshi players) are good…they have a captain who leads from the front. We are not going take anything for granted,” said Gayle.
Not many would argue against the West Indies team manager Richie Richardson's claim that Gayle's return has been a big boost for the West Indies. The dashing opener himself stated that he has been enjoying his run with the West Indies ever since his return. However, does that mean that the problems between Gayle and the West Indian Cricket board won't resurface?
“When you play international cricket, as a player, you know what's important for you, you got to be strong minded to get the job done. We will always have these things to deal with. Every particular board may have problems but it is something that we have to deal with,” replied a calm-looking Gayle, before heading towards his training session at the BCB's National Cricket Academy.
Gayle's relaxed demeanour in front of the media painted a different picture as compared to his on-field aggression with the bat. It even reminded some of the journalists of an age-old English proverb. However, one will have to wait for the beginning of the series to know if this is indeed the calm before the storm.