Chris Gayle Closing in on Brian Lara's West Indies Records at Cricket World Cup
As the curtain comes down on his One Day International career at what will be a fifth Cricket World Cup, one name has been synonymous with limited overs cricket in the Caribbean during the last 20 years.
There is no doubt that Chris Gayle is a modern era West Indies legend. He has chosen in recent years to focus on ODIs and Twenty20 cricket because it is that form of the game which plays to his strengths.
As Gayle prepares to hang up his bat in 50 overs games, as reported at https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport, what is the legacy he leaves behind? The Kingston native played his first One Day match for the Windies in 1999, and only Caribbean cricket icon Brian Lara has scored more runs for them in this format.
In order to surpass the best from the previous generation, Gayle needs just over 250 runs at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in England and Wales. Given the West Indies are guaranteed to play at least nine matches at the tournament, he needs to score an average of less than 30 per innings to set a new record for total One Day runs.
Gayle can essentially afford to be about 10 runs below par - if he plays every game. That is because his ODI career batting average is a little over 38. With that well-earned reputation for being so destructive standing square of the wicket, it is well within his ability to better Lara.
Not only do bookmakers believe Gayle will have a fond farewell, as Betfair make him the 11/4 favourite to be top West Indies runscorer, but he could represent some each-way value according to https://betting.betfair.com/cricket/ at 25/1 for outright top batsman at the World Cup.
There is another ODI record held by Lara that Gayle could also get, but it depends on the Windies making what is reckoned to be unlikely progress to the business end of the tournament. Again, he needs to play every game and help inspire the side all the way, but Gayle could rack up 300 One Day International games.
With the West Indies at 2/1 to reach the semis, 11/2 to make the final and 16/1 to lift the Cricket World Cup, it's less likely that Gayle will overhaul Lara as their most capped player in this form of cricket. It is a big ask for him to play every match aged 39 as the Windies face nine games in a mere five weeks, as shown by the tournament schedule at https://www.cricketworldcup.com/fixtures.
Coming into the World Cup, Gayle has made 25 ODI centuries and a further 51 scores of at least 50. He is one of a very select few to have a double century in 50 overs international cricket and, although in the autumn of his career, he can never be discounted.
A young West Indies side around him can help Gayle to belie his age. He brings vast experience and, as always, a certain charming reckless abandon to the crease.
©Cricket World 2019