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Not for the first time, a contemporary West Indies cricketer has publicly sought to embarrass a legend of yesteryear. One remembers in 2012 Dinesh Ramdin flashing a sign to Vivian Richards after the great man criticized him. Ramdin would later express regret for his actions. Now, Chris Gayle has lashed out in the ugliest way at Courtly Ambrose after he Ambrose questioned Gayle’s inclusion in the team currently preparing to play in the upcoming T20 World Cup.
Gayle is no stranger to uncouth behavior. But this time he has gone too far. In the first place, though a formidable player at his peak, he is not in Courtly Ambrose’s league. Second, whatever could be said about West Indian players, they have generally respected the spirit of the game. From Headley and Worrell to Lloyd and Walsh, our region has produced gentlemen of the game—fierce competitors, but respectable and respectful men.
Third, the criticisms are more of the selectors than of Gayle himself. The criticisms for including him in the squad has been near unanimous. Gayle has simply not been producing the goods—he is long past his best. There is no justification for his inclusion ahead of younger and fitter players who have been producing. Gayle has not been scoring runs, he doesn’t run quick singles and his agility in the field leaves much to be desired. Even franchises which used to compete for him no longer pick him in their stating eleven. So, his decision to single out Ambrose for abuse suggests something very personal.
The truth is that the CWI and its selectors have facilitated this behavior by Gayle. They have mustered the courage to give other players the marching orders but seem to treat Gayle differently. He has chosen when to make himself available and apparently will decide when to retire even though he is well past the normal retirement age. Our own Shiv Chanderpaul was not given that luxury even though he produced to the very end.
This public attack on Ambrose has embarrassed the West Indian nation. As Viv Richards opined, the way to answer critics is to perform on the field of play. We doubt Chris Gayle understands that mantra. He believes he is a law unto himself. His behavior in this regard is a bad example for younger cricketers. The sooner he is removed from anywhere near West Indies cricket, the better. Even if he scores a thousand runs in the upcoming tournament, he has overspent his time.