Bangalore: Chris Gayle, widely regarded as the foremost Twenty20 cricketer of his generation, hit out at criticism labelling him a T20 mercenary, and said it was sad his numerous achievements for West Indies in Test cricket were ignored by those criticising him.
"I have been giving my all for West Indies for 13 years now," Gayle told the Indian Express on Thursday (August 22). "So it's sad when people just forget all that I've achieved for the Caribbean and use such derogatory terms. I have scored runs and won matches in Test cricket as well. There are other cricketers too who get bracketed in that category. It's unfair but you can't stop tongues from wagging."
Gayle has played 97 Tests for West Indies so far, scoring 6836 runs at 42.45. He is one of only four men - the others being Sir Donald Bradman, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag - to hit two triple centuries in Test cricket.
Gayle is currently leading his home team, the Jamaica Tallawahs, in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL). Jamaica finished second in the league stages and will face Barbados Tridents in the second semifinal on Friday.
Gayle has represented numerous teams in T20 leagues across the world, and is among the most sought after cricketers in the format. He said that the key to fitting into various teams and dressing rooms around the world was performing well in the middle and not letting the pressure of the massive expectations he carries get to him.
"It's not easy. Landing up in a dressing-room on short notice and having to get acclimatised immediately. I have been doing this year after year. And I have gotten used to the whole process. The secret is to not put pressure on yourself to fit into the ecosystem. The best way to make a mark is by winning matches for the team," explained Gayle.
Gayle's big-hitting prowess and personality on the field, with entertainment always round the corner, have made him amongst the most popular cricketers in every city he goes to.
"I have been with Royal Challengers Bangalore (in the IPL) for a few years now so that connect is there. But it's difficult to just go somewhere and feel the pulse of that city. I just go with an open mind.
"The expectations are massive. They don't just want runs or sixes from Chris Gayle but he has to entertain with bat, ball and in the field. Luckily, I love having fun and ensuring that the fans and everyone is getting their money's worth."
While he felt there wasn't any danger of Test cricket dying out, Gayle reasoned that there was no doubt T20 cricket was the future, given its economics and its popularity.
"It's the future and is growing bigger and bigger every day," said Gayle. "Test cricket will survive, but you have to be realistic and accept things as they are. You can come to the ground for two-and-a-half hours knowing that you will be enthralled for every minute you spend there. It's become a serious business now. You have everyone from movie stars to celebrities coming in and trying to have their own piece of the pie."