“He let me know where I stand within this team and he wanted me to go and express myself”
Gayle came into the match having made 102 runs in nine innings since his recall earlier in the year against Sri Lanka and hadn’t struck a T20I half-century since 2016. That all changed in a display that brought seven sixes, including three in a row off Adam Zampa, and during the innings he went past 14000 T20 runs.
“It’s a great journey,” he said at the presentation. “I’m so happy and so pleased to get a series win first of all. I just want to commend the stand-in captain Nicholas Pooran for winning a fantastic series against a great team. To Kieron Pollard, he played a big part as well even though he played in none of these games. You all knew I was struggling with the bat and to be able to get some runs today was very pleasing.
“I want to dedicate this half-century and milestone to West Indies, my team-mates, especially Kieron Pollard. We had a team meeting before the game and…he let me know where I stand within this team and he wanted me to go and express myself. So I’m very grateful for that pep talk because sometimes it doesn’t matter how great you are, you need a bit of a talk sometimes.
“I have to commend those senior guys, they played a fantastic part with what happened today. With this strength and unity, we’re playing some great all-round cricket and I’m really pleased to win this series.”
Gayle then went into full Universe Boss mode and spoke of his desire to help West Indies defend their T20 World Cup title in the UAE in October.
“My main focus is the World Cup,” he said. “Don’t mind the numbers, Chris Gayle not getting the runs, soon to be 42. You guys should be happy to see Chris Gayle on the field still, hopefully Chris will last as long as possible. Cherish those moments, commentators don’t put up no stats about Chris Gayle not scoring a half-century. Just respect the Universe Boss, let him play cricket and have some fun. Enjoy the moment with Chris Gayle, a strong West Indies teams and some good youngsters.”
After the second match, Dwayne Bravo said that Gayle’s presence was more than about just runs, citing the calmness and experience he brings to the dressing room. Gayle explained after this innings that he and Bravo will often split the batting and bowling advice while coach Phil Simmons lauded Gayle’s role in the team environment.
“We’ve seen what he’s been doing in practice, seen what he’s done in IPL in the UAE where the World Cup will be played and we thought this was a role he could fill for us,” Simmons told the host broadcaster. “He started badly as it was highlighted, but we know where his heart is and today he showed what we insisted he can do. Nice to see him back in a bit of nick. He was absolutely happy tonight, he’s always wanted to do well for West Indies and tonight he showed why we are backing him.
“He’s unbelievable in the dressing room. He doesn’t shout and scream – well he does when he has too – but he offers advice quietly. We have him as a mentor added to him playing. He’s allowed to say what he as to say and when he speaks all of us listen because there’s no greater T20 player that’s passed through the world. That’s a huge part of having him there, not just the runs.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo