Modern day cricket has seen some of the most destructive hitters in the history of the game come to prominence, with a real love of attacking cricket seeing a surge in the way the game is played.
The best examples of these pioneers in the game are Brendon McCullum, AB de Villiers, Jos Buttler and, the most outrageously powerful of them all, Chris Gayle.
The West Indian batsman is a giant of the game, both in stature and in ability. Over 7000 runs in 103 Test matches at an average of 42.18 is superb for a man that was truly explosive when he got in. But where he really excelled, was in the shorter formats of the game.
In One Day Internationals, Gayle scored 9221 in 269 games, while it seems as though as the format gets shorter, he became more prolific, smashing 10,081 runs in 291 innings.
The 37-year-old is a man that the West Indies have still not replaced, and, in truth, while there are many players that can hit a ball like Gayle in the modern game, he is a character that still hasn’t been replaced by world cricket.
It is clear to see that his ability is beginning to wane in the modern game, with his troubles in the Indian Premier League a visible indicator of this:
For Gayle, the left-handed batsman had the best years in his career between 2010 and 2015 in the IPL, holding an average of between 32.44 and 67.55. His standout season was in 2011, where he hit two centuries, on his way to smashing the opposition bowling attacks for 608 runs across the tournament.
In the following season he made 733 runs, but this was after three more innings. In the form Gayle was in during 2011, it was possible he could have gone past the 800 mark with the extra three games he had the following year.
For a man that was so destructive for the West Indies and in the Indian Premier League, it is not easy to pick out his three most explosive innings, but we here at ClickOn have done the leg-work for you on this one:
Number 3) 100* (48) West Indies vs England, March 2016.
The score itself was not too outrageous for Gayle, scoring at just over two runs a ball. But, it was when you consider the opposition that made this innings so good. With a bowling attack of Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid, Gayle was able to lay waste to England, as he notched a fine hundred.
Following a two ball duck for Johnson Charles, Gayle knew he would have to dig in and get his team out of trouble. The West Indies’ batsman smashed five fours and 11 sixes, more than the entire England team put together (nine). His hundred came of just 47 balls, with Gayle playing a starring role in the West Indies chasing down a tough looking target of 182.
Number 2) 151* (62) Somerset vs Kent, May 2015.
It was an incredibly entertaining game, and one that very few thought would be such a high scoring affair. 451 runs were scored in 240 balls, with Kent scoring 227, and Somerset coming agonisingly close to completing an outrageous run chase, eventually closing on 224.
While Kent won the game and took the points, it was Gayle that stole the headlines, probably to the dismay of Sam Northeast, who made 114 from 58 balls for Kent. Somerset’s opener smashed 151 from 62 balls, hitting 10 fours and 16 sixes. It was a game in which both sides thoroughly played their parts in battling out an entertaining fixture, but the innings of the match went to Somerset’s West Indies’ destroyer.
Number 1) 175* (66) Royal Challengers Bangalore vs Pune Warriors, April 2013.
The greatest T20 innings. Gayle destroyed Pune Warriors’ attack in the Indian Premier League as he smote them to all sides of the field. The West Indies powerhouse smashed 13 fours and 17 sixes as he reminded everyone that he is the undisputed king of power hitting.
RCB ended on an impossible score of 263 from 120 balls. It was an incredible innings from Gayle, who completely eclipsed the class of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli, while South Africa’s AB de Villiers, a man touted as close to Gayle’s hitting power could only stand and watch as his teammate made light of the boundaries. It probably shows how ridiculous the score is that RCB’s opponents managed just 133 runs in their 20 overs.
Gayle’s 175 remains the fastest century in T20 history, and with 17 sixes and 13 fours, it was an incredible show of power. There have been many superb talents in the modern game, and it has brought cricket forward massively, with the game in need of a fresh wave of interest.
Gayle though has been one of the mainstays of destructive cricket throughout its rejuvenation over the last decade, and, while his powers are diminishing this season, he will go down as one of the most entertaining and destructive players in the history of the game.