West Indies hard-hitting, opening batting star Chris Gayle is targeting a third Twenty20 world title, as he returns to West Indies colors for the first time since the 2019 World Cup, according to ESPNcricinfo.
The online cricket publication said on Monday that Gayle is “willing to fulfil whatever role is asked of him in the team’s bid to retain the trophy in India this year.”
Gayle, 41, has only ever opened the batting in T20I cricket and had almost exclusively batted at the top of the order in his franchise career before the start of the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL), ESPNcricinfo said.
But after starting the tournament out of the Kings XI Punjab side, Gayle hit 395 runs in nine innings at No. 3 for the franchise, averaging 43.88 and striking at 144.16, ESPNcricinfo said.
During a press conference in Antigua on Monday, two days before the series opener against Sri Lanka, Gayle said that he was happy to bat wherever West Indies captain Kieron Pollard and head coach Phil Simmons asked him to, reported ESPNcricinfo.
Gayle said he would be “the best in the world,” regardless of where he came in, according to ESPNcricinfo.
Gayle is one of four openers in the 14-man squad, along with Evin Lewis, Lendl Simmons and Andre Fletcher.
“It seems like I’m the No. 3 specialist now,” ESPNcricinfo quoted Gayle as joking. “It was a role that the coach, Anil Kumble, asked me to play. He did mention it before the IPL actually started, which I had no problem with. And then, eventually, when I actually got the chance, they wanted my experience at No. 3, because Mayank [Agarwal] and KL Rahul were going great guns at the time.
“It’s not a problem,” Gayle added. “I’m good at playing spin, I’m as good at playing fast bowlers as anyone, as I’m an opener. But, with West Indies cricket, whatever role they want me to play, I’m willing to play that particular role.
“We haven’t fully discussed it, but I’ll get a bit of a heads up and work out what to look forward to in this particular series and down into the World Cup,” he continued. “If it’s opening, I’m ready, No. 3, No. 5, I’m pretty much flexible. I will still be the best No. 5 in the world, best No. 3 in the world.
“I want to accomplish, starting off by winning the series, but the bigger picture is actually to get three T20 titles under my belt,” Gayle said. “That’s actually the goal I’m setting in my head by winning the T20 World Cup. We have quite a few series coming up, and we have a lot of cricket leading up to that. We’ll try and take as much as possible out of these series coming up.
“The World Cup is still a long way off, but, by the time you quint [blink], it’s World Cup time,” he further stated. “So, we have to try and keep the energy, keep fit, be ready and show the region what we are capable of with these particular guys.”