Heading into his fifth World Cup, veteran West Indies opener Chris Gayle feels the bowlers know very well what he is capable of doing and are scared of him, although they won’t admit it.
Gayle, who turns 40 in September, arrived in the United Kingdom for his fifth World Cup and the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ is in sublime form having scored 424 runs at an average of 106, including 39 sixes, in four matches against tournament favourites England earlier this year.
“Youngsters coming at my head – it’s not as easy as it was like one time before,” Gayle told cricket.com.au. “I was quicker then.
“But they’ll be wary. They know what the Universe Boss is capable of. I’m sure they will have it in the back of their mind, ‘Hey, this is the most dangerous batsman they’ve ever seen in cricket.'”
Are opponents still scared of him?
“Can’t you tell? You go ask them.
“Go ask them on camera. They’re going to say, no, they’re not scared. But you ask them off the camera, they going to say, ‘Yeah, he’s the man. He’s the man.’ They’re going to say, ‘he’s the man.’
“But they won’t say it (on camera), they won’t be frank and upfront and say, ‘Listen to me straight up, Chris Gayle is the man.’
“But I’m enjoying it. I’m always enjoying the battle against fast bowlers, it’s good. Sometimes those things actually give you extra drive as a batter. When you have a battle, I like those challenges.”
Asked what keeps him going even at 39, Gayle said it’s the affection of the fans.
“To be honest with you, it’s the fan, it’s the love of the game.
“Sometimes as sportsmen, they don’t know when to walk away. Because sometimes you might feel at your peak, but eventually you have to leave the game at some point in time.
“If you’re enjoying it, it’s always easy (to keep playing) and I’m enjoying it. I’ve been having a lot of fun on the field, and it’s a great bunch of guys as well – that’s important.
“The dressing room is always going to play a key part for me as an individual. These guys spur you on.
“The fans are always asking you for more sixes. Those things give you that extra drive.
“There’s nothing to go out there and prove, the only thing that would be nice is to win the World Cup.”
Gayle sounded confident in saying he was always going to make the cut for the World Cup despite going more than two years without playing an ODI after the 2015 World Cup.
“I am still in good nick,” he said.
“I had a not-so-bad IPL, coming after the home series against England.
“The good thing about it is I’ve been playing cricket. It’s important for me to keep playing and get some games under my belt and come here to the UK and start with a few warm-up games as well to see where you’re at.
“It’s a long tournament. For me personally I just have to monitor it as much as possible and just get the mindset right.”
West Indies, who trained here on Tuesday, take on Pakistan on May 31 in their opener at Trent Bridge.