For Chris Gayle, the series against England is a special one. This will be his last ODI series at home after he announced that he would retire from the format after the end of the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup. A couple of days before the first ODI against England in Barbados, Gayle announced to reporters that he will remain ‘The Greatest player ever’. “You're looking at a great man. I'm the greatest player in the world. Of course I'm still the Universe Boss. That will never change. I'll take that to the grave,” Gayle said. In the ODI against England, the left-hander put on a magnificent show with a wonderful performance as he dazzled his hometown fans for one last time.
Gayle smashed his 24th century and helped West Indies reach 360/8 against England. The knock included three fours and 12 massive sixes but his knock went in vain as England achieved a world record chase to win the game by six wickets.
The left-hander started off slowly, consuming 30 balls to score just eight runs as the other West Indies batsmen made fast starts. After being dropped by Jason Roy off Liam Plunkett on 9, Gayle continued to bat slowly as he made 26 off 54 balls. However, he broke the shackles by launching Moeen Ali for a big six over deep midwicket and creaming him for a slog sweep to deep square leg for his first four.
The first six off Moeen took him past Shahid Afridi and made him the ultimate six-hitter the game has ever seen. This was Gayle’s 477th six and took him past Afridi’s tally of 476 combined across all formats. Gayle again hammered Moeen out of the ground for his second six and notched up his fifty on what was his first game since July 2018 by cracking Ben Stokes for a boundary.
After he reached his milestone, Gayle raised the tempo and launched Liam Plunkett for two sixes, with one going out of the ground for the third time. The left-hander continued to give the fourth umpire a lot of work by clobbering Mark Wood out of the ground for two further sixes. Gayle neared his century with two additional sixes off Plunkett, one to deep midwicket and another one a top-edge to third man.
A paddle sweep off Adil Rashid and a single off Chris Woakes gave him a sublime ton and it was his third against England. Moeen continued to bear the brunt of the ‘Gayle’storm as the West Indies dasher launched him out of the ground for two more sixes. On 124, Woakes dropped Gayle off Rashid and he punished England further by clobbering Rashid over deep midwicket for his 12th six. His innings was brought to a close when he dragged a full ball from Ben Stokes back onto his stumps as West Indies ended on a good score.
Gayle’s 12 sixes was the most any player had hit in an ODI innings against England while his tally was the ninth-most in ODIs. Gayle already tops the charts for most sixes hit in an innings when he hit 16 in the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup game against Zimbabwe in Canberra. Gayle is level on top with AB de Villiers and Rohit Sharma.
Thanks to Gayle’s sublime hitting, West Indies ended with 23 sixes in the innings which is the most by a team, breaking the record of 22 which New Zealand had set against West Indies in Queenstown 2014, a match which saw Corey Anderson smash the record for the fastest century in ODIs with a 36-ball ton.