One catch, one wicket and a few push-ups - the Universe Boss farewell

West Indies star Chris Gayle failed to fire with the bat in his last Cup game, but he turned up as an off-spinner and scalped Ikram Ali Khil.

West Indies' Chris Gayle holds the ball as he leaves the ground after their win over Afghanistan in Leeds on Thursday.   -  AP

The World Cup scripts fresh chapters and equally ushers in the last curtain. It is a cycle that repeats every four years where some teams gain fresh wind and veteran stars bid the long good-bye. As the West Indies and Afghanistan clashed in an inconsequential game at Headingley here on Thursday, all eyes were on Chris Gayle.

This was supposed to be the last outing for the Universe Boss until he revealed plans of perhaps bowing out after the home series later against India. Yet, one thing is certain; the big-built Jamaican will not be seen in another World Cup. He is 39 and his best years have lapsed.

 

The belligerent opener failed to fire, falling cheaply for just seven but when Afghanistan commenced its pursuit, Gayle was omnipresent. The southpaw lumbered at first slip, often appealing in hope, arms flung wide and topped with a longing gaze at the umpire. As always, the crowd rooted for him.

Later, he tumbled from his great height as Rahmat Shah popped a catch off Carlos Brathwaite. Gayle moved a touch gingerly and as the shot dipped, he dived and snapped up just before the ball grazed the grass. He just lay there, like a huge ship that ran aground. Brathwaite ran towards Gayle and he too rested on the turf, opposite the big man. And then the irreverence and fun that sweeps through the Caribbean islands came into view. Both did push-ups and laughter rippled.

Chris Gayle (left) and Carlos Brathwaite.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

In his final World Cup game, Gayle couldn’t be suppressed. He turned up as an off-spinner and scalped Ikram Ali Khil. Curtly Ambrose recently termed Gayle’s bid for an extended farewell as ‘nonsense’ but the maverick, the last of a cricketing species which made its debut way back in 1999 along with Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik, would be missed, whenever his last walk happens.

Yes, he scored massive runs clipped at a break-neck speed, be it Tests, ODIs or Twenty20 leagues. And he also embraced notoriety with his damning streaks of misogyny. But above all, Gayle would remain the last of those players with a distinct style, who refused to be slotted. Importantly, he always connected with the fans, not for him the ivory tower.