The Indian Premier League is all about fun and games. So while some are playing hard on the field, some are having fun off it too. NDTV caught up with Chris Gayle in Mumbai on the sidelines of an event to select flag-bearers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Excerpts from a freewheeling chat with the Jamaican, who plays for IPL side Royal Challengers Bangalore.
On Chris Gayle, the footballer:
You haven't heard of Chris Gayle the football fan? Come on maan, I am the biggest footballer in the world. I can't believe you haven't heard about that. I mean football in India has all started from the grassroots. That's the best way to go about football and to try and develop it in India. We all know that cricket is the number one sport here. We know the football players all around the world and we all watch it, love it and enjoy playing it as well. It's a situation where we have these kids in India, so many of them who cannot make it at the cricket level, so it is a perfect opportunity for them to take up football and show their skills. You never know you might find another Chris Gayle in football in India.
On football, a childhood passion:
I don't play football on the beach, I play football on the field. Yeah, I grew up playing football, that was my first passion in sports. To be honest, I was a player at school level. I used to love it. Every time I came home from school it was all about football. It was never about cricket, to be honest with you. In high school, you had three formats of football. You had the Pepsi level which was the under-14 and I represented my school in that. Then you had the Colts which was an under-16 level and then you had the Money Cup at the under-19 level. I did not take up the under-19 level, the reason being that when I went and saw the training, I didn't think I would make it. There was too much running and you all blame me saying that I do not run anyway in cricket. So that was the reason why I did not take up the Money Cup battle in school and from there I just lost the passion.
On the switch to cricket:
I was always a cricketer, that came naturally. In my family of five brothers only one did not represent our country. All the others represented the country at some level. So cricket in the family was as natural as learning the numbers. We would go pick up a bat, love running around and playing football and showing our skills. People would talk more about football when you finished playing a football game rather than a cricket. In school, I played both football and table tennis. I also took part in track and field. So I was an all-round sportsman.
On his favourite team in the FIFA World Cup:
Well, I don't have any money to spend on football but my eyes will be on Brazil for sure. I have always been a Brazil fan. I back them to win at home, so hopefully they can. Home pressure is always difficult but I am sure they have been planning for that. Their upcoming star Neymar can hopefully display his talents along with Ronaldinho. (Brazil coach Scolari has not included Ronaldinho)
On who will be the star of FIFA World Cup:
Well, he is not a Brazilian, he is from Portugal (Cristiano Ronaldo). I used to teach him the game and he has excelled so I am really happy for him. He is showcasing my skills for Real Madrid and previously for Manchester United. So when you see him just think of me and that's how I am at football!
On RCB's fortunes in IPL this year:
It has been up and down. Out of our seven games we have lost four and won three, so it has been inconsistent for us. We started really well and then had some hiccups here and there. I mean we just have to find the balance within the team. It's a new group, we just have to try and click together hopefully at the right time and we will see what the next couple of games have to offer. We should try and build some momentum especially at home in the next three games which should put us in a good position.
On his low-key performance in IPL this year:
Well, you haven't seen light in your tournament because you have not given me the matches to strike it. So when I get a chance to light up the match you will see fire and then I will be blazing. (My) best is yet to come.
On Yuvraj Singh in the RCB dressing room:
It is good to have Yuvraj in the team. It's good to share the dressing room with some new faces as well. It's a new band and we just want for everybody to get comfortable and play some good cricket and utilise the middle as well as we utilise the nets.
On the Pollard-Starc showdown:
I would ask ICC to invent boxing gloves for cricket. The umpires should keep the boxing gloves out on the pitch so you can have half a minute of punch out just like in ice hockey. So whoever gets into a fight we give them the gloves, we form a ring and they punch out for 30 seconds or a minute. Then it's the end of story and we get on with the game!