TELFORD VICE, Cape Town
THE good news is SA have beaten West Indies in a T20 despite Chris Gayle scoring a century. The bad news is that whenever Gayle has made a half-century against SA the Windies have won.
Talk about counterintuitive: give the man 50 and he beats you; give him 100 and you win.
This bit of junk science is based on nothing more than Gayle’s 117 at the Wanderers in the 2007 World T20, when SA won by eight wickets, and his innings of 77 and 90 at Newlands and at the Wanderers, both in January last year, and both won by the Windies.
But, with SA set to clash with Gayle again in their WT20 match against West Indies in Nagpur on Friday, all things should be considered.
Overall, SA have played six T20s against Windies’ sides locked and loaded with Gayle – and SA have won four of them.
Gayle has never played a T20 in Nagpur, not even for Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, six of the 17 hundreds he has scored in the format have been smashed around and out of Indian grounds. That’s two more than he has hit in his home conditions in the Caribbean.
The dreadlocked left-hander has scored more runs in T20s for West Indies in Asia than anywhere else, but he has also had more innings there than anywhere else.
Only off-spinners Mohammad Hafeez and Graeme Swann and medium pacer Nuwan Kulasekara have dismissed Gayle more than once each in his 44 T20 international innings.
He has been caught 25 times, bowled eight times, and leg-before, stumped and run out another seven times.
Of the six SA bowlers who have claimed Gayle’s wicket, Dale Steyn, David Wiese and Imran Tahir are at the WT20.
Wiese would be forgiven for not looking forward to re-acquainting himself with a player who averages 90.00 against him. Of all the players in T20 international cricket who have bowled to Gayle only Johan van der Wath’s average against him is higher: 117.00.
All of which meant nothing in Bangalore on Sunday, when West Indies added Sri Lanka to England as teams they had played and beaten in the 2016 WT20. New Zealand are the only other unbeaten side at the tournament.
The Windies won by seven wickets and without a single swat in anger from Gayle – who was not allowed to bat because he had spent too much time off the field with a hamstring problem.
As Gayle himself said, “ … there are a lot of guys who are matchwinners themselves, who can do the same thing and destroy bowling attacks from around the world”.
Indeed. Gayle has played 47 T20s for the Windies, of which they have won 22 – or 46.81%. Overall, Gayle or no Gayle, the men in maroon have won 35 of their 73 games in the format – 47.95%.
What about the 26 T20s Gayle hasn’t played for West Indies? Won 13. Lost 13.
Who would have thought it: Gayle’s team are more successful when he isn’t playing.