Simmons: Gayle’s batting is as simple as it looks

"We are looking to make sure Gayle bats about 15 overs or so. Then we can close out each match in this competition."

Chris Gayle hammered a century of just 47 balls.   -  Vivek Bendre

Chris Gayle scored the fastest century in WT20, shredding the England attack to pieces and sending the ball soaring into the stands at the Wankhede stadium, which now resembles his playground. The 47-ball 100 bettered his 2007 ton managed in 50 balls.

West Indies coach Phil Simmons wants repeat shows from his dangerman. “We are looking to make sure Gayle bats about 15 overs or so. Then we can close out each match in this competition.”

Understanding Twenty20 batting is a novelty for the WI coach, belonging to a different era. “I spent some time with Chris trying to find out about his thinking. I realised that for him, batting in T20 is as simple as what you see. He decides that Adil Rashid is the bowler I want to take on and goes after him.”

Simmons felt there is a role Marlon Samuels needs to play for Gayle to take off. “Samuels took the pressure off him and allowed him to settle down. Marlon is a class act and needs to be appreciated.”

With marauders like Samuels and Gayle around, cricket remains a batsman’s game, Simmons pointed out. “Bowlers cannot do much, with only one bouncer per over, free hit for a no-ball, the game has not changed much,” he said.

“Sir Viv (Richards) had the capacity to attack the bowling the way Gayle does.” The latter struck 11 effortless sixes at the Wankhede stadium, single-handedly dousing England's determined effort to defend 181.

England captain Eoin Morgan got a close look at the West Indies opener. “Our plans were very pretty good, the execution was alright. When Chris Gayle bats the way he did, there is nothing much you can do.”

He agreed that besides the huge opener’s class, WI bowlers also were smarter, denying his batting the opportunity to convert 20s to 30, 30s to 60. “I feel they used their experience.”

Asked if Gayle’s power-packed batting papered over cracks in his squad, Simmons responded: “Every team in this tournament has weak points. West Indies try to play to our strengths. It is for the other teams to catch us on our weaknesses, the way we do to them.”

The problem for teams taking on WI is that just one man, armed with power, reach and timing can neutralise all plans, reducing a contest into a spectacle, making a former WI batting sensation and current coach admit that cricket remains a batsman’s game.