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Gayle: ‘It’s a head thing’

West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle says the inability to concentrate for long periods is the bugbear of the region’s Test players.

Gayle, who has enjoyed a successful Test career since his debut as a 20-year-old in 2000, spoke on the subject to the Indian media yesterday in Chennai where he has travelled to support the Tamil Nadu Premier League.

Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle

The big Jamaican left-hander who has 7 214 Test runs at an average of 42.18 with 15 centuries, inclusive of two triple tons, and 37 fifties, said during the interview that patience and batting for long periods were not the forte of the players of recent vintage.

“When I look at both formats of the game, I feel we fail to concentrate for longer periods of time [in Tests]. This has been the case since the time I made my debut under Brian Lara. We only play [quality] cricket for short sessions and we win a session here or there. And then, we switch off and that’s why we tend to lose a lot of Test matches.

“Having patience and batting for long sessions is something that’s been lacking [in the West Indies Test team]. That’s not the case in T20s as we have the experience and the talent to go the distance. With regards to me playing Tests – yes, it’s a possibility. The talks are on and we will have to wait and see what happens,” he said.

Gayle, who in the past has expressed his preference for the shortest form of the game over Test cricket, said Twenty20 cricket had changed the way Test cricket is now played for the better.

“Firstly, T20s have changed the way Test cricket is played today. When you look at any day’s play, 180-200 used to be scored earlier in a day in Tests. Today one gets to see scores close to 300 being hit and that’s happened due to the advent of T20s. Test players who play T20s develop skills to score runs quickly. David Warner is a good example of that and that’s how myself or even Virender Sehwag has scored a lot of runs in Tests,” he noted.

Gayle, who has played in most of the major Twenty20 leagues across the world, said the West Indies men and women had been successful in the format because of global exposure and natural athleticism.

“From the men’s point of view, Chris Gayle is there (laughs)! That’s a huge impact. From the women’s team’s point of view, Stafanie Taylor is there – a fantastic player as well. Most of the players in our side play T20 competitions all over the world and have the experience needed to play in this format. We are a naturally gifted T20 side with some superb fielders and great all-rounders,” he said.

Despite missing out on the recent two-match Twenty20 series against India in the United States because of injury, Gayle was full of praise for the venture into North America and suggested it could be a great market for the game.

“I thought the turnout in the US was fantastic. To have been able to organize games at such short notice was nice. The US can definitely be a great market for international cricket and we hope to see more international matches being held there in the future,” he said.

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