Chris Gayle will “hang his hat” on his latest achievement, that of becoming the first to score 10,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket, said Ricky Ponting, congratulating the big Jamaican for a “fantastic achievement”.
Gayle, who started Royal Challengers Bangalore’s game against Gujarat Lions three runs off the milestone, scored 77 from 38 balls to not only get to the 10,000-run mark but also signal a return to form after a few indifferent performances. When he got out, he had 10,074 runs from 290 T20 games, with Brendon McCullum in second place 2478 runs behind, with 7596 against his name from 272 games.
“He’ll hang his hat on that, as he should,” Ponting told cricket.com.au on Wednesday (April 19). “He’s played more T20 cricket in the last five or six years than he has other forms of the game, but he’s dominated the game pretty much everywhere he’s been. Congratulations to him, it’s a fantastic achievement.
Gayle, who played the last of his 103 Tests in September 2014, is among only four batsmen in cricket history to score two Test triple-centuries, Don Bradman, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag being the others. He is also the only batsman to have scored a triple-century in Tests, a double-century in One-Day Internationals, and a century in T20 Internationals.
“The man has got a Test triple-hundred as well so it’s hasn’t always been just about T20 cricket,” said Ponting. “He’s got a pretty good one-day record and we probably forget about how much Test cricket he played – he’s played 100 Tests. He’s played a lot of cricket and there’s probably a lot of negativity around about him probably not playing as much Test cricket for the West Indies as a lot of people would have liked, but at the end of the day he’s had a long and distinguished career and when he’s finished he’ll be pretty happy with it.”
Talking about his time in the Indian Premier League as a player first and then as coach, with Mumbai Indians, Ponting said there was little point bowling spin at Gayle, and pace offered the only hope of keeping him quiet for a while.
“Some of the things we would do with him at Mumbai, while he was in we would just bowl our fastest bowlers until he got out. We weren’t going to bowl spin at him,” said Ponting. “We’d have (Mitchell) Johnson, we’d have (Lasith) Malinga, (Mitchell) McClenaghan; we’d have all three going for as long as it took to get him out.
“Because as soon as you expose spin to him, you can guarantee that the first over is going for 20-plus. That’s just the way he plays. And he’d target those spinners; he’d block Malinga’s first two or three overs, not even look to score, and wait for the spin to come on. So we’d try and drag that out and get lots of dot balls on him when we could with our fast bowlers and make it harder for him to end up striking at 300. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And more often than not during his career, he’s had the better of most teams that he’s played against.”
Gayle has an average of 42.33 against Australia from eight Tests, and scored 165 not out and 102 in back-to-back games on the 2009-10 tour, the centuries coming in Adelaide and Perth. Ponting was Australia’s captain at the time.
“He hits the ball so far, so hard and so easily,” remarked Ponting. “He stands very steady at the crease, he’s a big tall guy, so we tried lots of things with him. We tried to bowl really wide and get outside his arc and get outside his natural swing plane, but because he’s so tall he can still tend to reach them with the wide line and hit them back down the ground.
“We challenged him with some short balls … we had Mitchell Johnson really getting up him a couple of games. That worked to a certain degree, but you just know with him if he gets any sort of bat on it, the ball’s flying and it’s going over the fence. So it’s a line.
“He made a brilliant hundred in Perth (off 70 balls) and it was the same thing over there; he got through Johnson early on, got through (Shane) Watson with the newish ball and then Nathan Hauritz came on and it was just fruit for the grandstand, really. He was just hitting effortless sixes down the ground, so it just goes to show that he can do it in all forms of the game.”