No fan likes his favourite player to diminish. If the loyalists had their opportunity to bend the nature’s law, many legends would still be around with grey hairs.
But, unfortunately, fantasies are just fantasies and from time to time, people have been made to deal with superstars who lose their shine and are no longer the entertainers they used to be.
Take Chris Gayle for an example.
No one knows T20 cricket better Chris Gayle. He represents the form of cricket and has been its untameable giant. But, in the corner of the mind, there is feeling that his time is as good as over. At least, he isn’t at his peak and is no longer considered the dreaded six-hitter who made bowlers sweat, overthink and question their ability at the start of their bowling run-ups.
The IPL 10 speaks for Gayle’s depreciating value as a T20 cricketer. Royal Challengers Bangalore no longer think him as the permanent member of its starting XI. Travis Head, the Australian left-hander, has been instead preferred to add more stability.
The reason behind this move is clearly visible – scores of 32, 6, 22, 77, 7 and 8. Before the start of the IPL, Chris Gayle had no half century to his credits in the last 10 innings including his appearances for the Karachi Kings in the 2017 Pakistan Super League. He ended with an average of 17.77 with 44 being his highest score.
The fall in his stocks has been gradual and has not taken place all of a sudden. IPL 2016 also was a gloomy season for him. He scored only two fifties in the 10 matches that he played for RCB. In contrast, he averaged 67.55 in 2011, 61.08 in 2012, 59.00 in 2013 and 40.91 in the 2015 season.
There was no hype surrounding Chris Gayle’s name ahead of the celebrated 10th edition of the IPL. Generally, we have publishing houses publishing stories after stories. But, this season, he has been spending his time almost in a discreet fashion. The only carnival-like moment in recent times he had was when he reached the pinnacle of 10K runs.
Before the lean patch began, Chris Gayle was the one who shattered the bowlers. As Prasanth Parameswaran, the left armer, whose first meet with Gayle cost him 37 runs. Or, maybe, Ishwar Pandey can tell the joy of bowling against him. The highest wicket taker in the 2013 Ranji Trophy was just a minion when Gayle registered the greatest T20 knock ever – 175* off just 66 balls.
After making his T20 debut for the PCA Masters XI in September 2005, he has freelanced with nearly every T20 league in every major cricket-playing nation in the world (18 to be precise) and almost dominated this version of cricket in a ‘Don Bradman’ like fashion.
Chris Gayle has been the coolest of all but he is no computer tool. At 37, his physical capabilities would allow him only a couple of more seasons in top flight T20 franchise. The epic standard that Gayle has created for T20 cricketer to follow would eventually be used as the parameter to judge the Universe Boss himself.
And, if he continues, in the same manner, he has been doing in the past couple of seasons, it won’t be long before he will be forced to exit like an exhausted giant.