http://www.Mahala.co.za – http://www.mahala.co.za/culture/im-only-human/
TELFORD VICE, Sydney
CHRIS Gayle sticks out. It is, after all, difficult to hide a six-foot-two, dreadlocked Jamaican with shoulders to match and more than a passing resemblance to Snoop Dogg in downtown Sydney, home of the short, white folks – and plenty of even shorter yellow folks – now that Aborigines have been hunted to the point of extinction.
Certainly, the friend of another reporter’s friend had no trouble seeing Gayle out and about on Wednesday night at 9pm. So, well within curfew. But, round midnight, Gayle posted a picture of himself all got up in shades, ripped jeans and a cowboy hat – all in black – and looking like he was about to whip out a pair of six-shooters and blow someone’s ass away in the gunfight not at the KO Corral but in a hotel corridor somewhere fancy. He captioned the picture, “I’m only Human …”
Too human, as it turned out, because picking him out of a line-up of the usual suspects at a West Indies training session on Thursday morning was impossible.
All West Indies’ players seem to be at least six-foot-two with shoulders to match, and all of them wear the same blue training gear. That extends to their coaches – Curtly Ambrose is six-foot-seven, although he does not have the shoulders. Marlon Samuels does, but he is shorter than most and can be spotted by his junkyard dog scowl.
So it took a while for the small frizz of reporters gathered at the nets at the Sydney Cricket Ground to work out that Gayle was not among the six-foot-twoers towering out there in their blue kit.
Trigger a few minutes of what gives the denizens of the World Cup press corps a reason to get out of bed on most days: a story that is not really a story but will do until a real story – or a better story that is not really a story – comes along.
What? No Gayle? And that after, in Canberra on Tuesday, he had made Zimbabwe feel as if they were stuck in a lift with Robert Mugabe for 50 overs when he scored 215 against? And with the game against South Africa, the biggest game West Indies and South Africa have played since … dunno … on Friday? And with South Africa under pressure to win having failed dismally to fight their way out of a stale roti against India in Melbourne on Sunday? And considering South Africa tend to morph into melktert at the merest sign of pressure …
Oh! My! God! What are West Indies going to do?! Gayle! Gayle! They need Gayle! They must have Gayle! They cannot stay alive without Gayle! South Africa would dance naked on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge if they did not have to bowl to Gayle!
And this before anyone has tried to find out why Gayle is not around.
A call to the West Indies media manager – who is clearly visible to us not 100 metres away but on the other side of the fence that may not be crossed on pain of probable excommunication from the ranks of accredited reporters – produces the profundity that Gayle is resting his ailing back. But he will be fit for the South Africa match.
Gayle has had a sore back for more than a year, and the way he sat down behind the microphones to talk about his double century in Canberra suggested he will have to endure the pain for many more years year.
This is good grist for the non-story. But it gets better because one of the security men guarding the players from the motley likes of us and our nuclear-tipped pencils says Gayle has a sore throat; a cold, even.
A cold! When Frank Sinatra had a cold, Gay Talese came up with 15 148 words on the subject for Esquire and produced the finest piece of magazine journalism yet written. A cold! What luck!
Better yet, we have a discrepancy! At official level! Sore back or cold? You decide. Now that’s what a non-story needs to grow some balls.
Back on the phone to the media manager: does Chris Gayle have a sore throat or a cold or anything of the sort?
Bugger. Chris Gayle does not have a cold. Gay Talese cancels his hastily arranged trip to Sydney. Esquire are mightily unhappy.
Although it could be a lie. That is, of course, why media managers exist – to lie to the likes of us to keep the good stories and the good non-stories alike out of the paper.
Yup. It’s definitely a lie. Has to be. Bloody bastard media officer. We’re onto him.
But, reporters being the damn fools they are, one of them asks not in a whisper but out loud “So, does he have a cold?”
As one, the four security staff on the other side of the fence but within earshot swivel 180 degrees and boom in unison: “He Does Not Have A Cold!”
OK! Jeez! Neither Frank Sinatra nor Chris Gayle has a cold! We get it!
But does his extra sore back have anything to do with him being out at midnight? And with whom? And why? And doing what? He’s only human, remember …