Explosive West Indies batsman Chris Gayle is racing against time to get fit for his 100th Test match at his home country of Jamaica early next month and is set to fly tonight from here to consult a specialist in Germany for his troubling back injury.
"It was tough. It (injury) happened just before IPL at the end of the T20 World Cup in Bangladesh. It became even worse later. I thought it was a simple thing when I went back and then when I started training in UAE it became difficult bending and sprinting between wickets. It was a problem, but I tried my best and missed the first 4 games," said the 34-year-old left-handed batsman here after launching his own shoe brand (CG) designed by Shyam Kale. (Read: Told Pollard I'll Punch Him in the Head: Gayle)
"I am just trying to get this injury sorted out. Even now I am struggling. I could not move too much, bend too much. I am going to Germany tonight to see a specialist to resolve this issue, to try and get fit now. The Test match against New Zealand (which would be his 100th) starts on June 8." (Also read: Maxwell More Destructive Than Me, Gayle: Sehwag)
"It (100th Test) will be a big achievement for me. That's the reason I am flying to see a specialist," he added.
The opener said he was looking forward to the 100th Test milestone which he feels he would have crossed a long while ago had he not been affected by injuries.
"100th Test will mean a lot to me. I played for West Indies first 13 years ago and I am going on to my 14th year to get to the milestone. I should have got past this a long time ago but for injuries. But these things happen. You pick up injuries as a cricketer," Gayle said.
"I am still injured and I am trying to sort it out so that I can be fully fit for that special occasion. It's a big task and a big occasion for me and for people back home. I have my fingers crossed and hopefully I will be back on the field as quickly as possible," he added.
The former West Indies skipper, who has amassed 6933 runs in 99 Tests with 333 as his highest individual score among 15 triple figure knocks, had a poor outing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and said the entire outfit is disappointed at the team's poor display in the T20 league.
"We all are disappointed, not only me but all others in the team and the fans as well. The last two years we could not make it to the final. We wanted it so badly this year but it just did not happen. Life goes on. Still we have to keep pushing for the next year though it is far away with a lot of cricket to play at this point in time," he said.
"We have to play better cricket and perform better."
Gayle, who scored only 196 runs in nine matches with 46 as his best effort in IPL-7, said both bowling and batting of RCB was inconsistent which led to their elimination.
"Both parts were equally inconsistent. Batting was inconsistent at times and bowling also. Winning games too was inconsistent and it made things difficult. A few games slipped from us as we could not find the turning point. But it's a fantastic group. We have to go back and rethink about things."
He took umbrage at a question whether any bookies had approached him this season.
"It's a sticky question. You can't put this sort of question to me," he fumed.
Asked about the on-field flare-up between his RCB teammate Mitchell Starc and West Indian mate Kieron Pollard, who represents Mumbai Indians, when they played each other at the Wankhede Stadium, Gayle said it was a spur of the moment thing and he intervened and talked to Pollard to calm things down.
"It was a heat of the moment happening, one of those things where you snap in a split second. I tried to calm the situation down as I did not want it to go any further," he said.
Asked about the replacement of Darren Sammy by Denesh Ramdin as West Indies Test captain by the selectors, Gayle said probably they wanted a younger man to take things forward.
"It's something the management or Board (WICB) made. Nothing lasts forever. I had been in those situations. May be they are looking at a younger guy for the future. These are one of those things. You have to support the Board's decision."
Having played in IPL under Virat Kohli, largely looked at as the next man to lead India after Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Gayle said he had been impressed by the former's leadership skills in RCB.
"He's probably the next Indian captain after Dhoni. He shows passion on the field and also speaks to all the players at team meetings. He is definitely the guy for the job," Gayle said.
On a lighter vein Gayle said he wanted to bring fellow-Jamaican sprinter Yohan Blake, who has shown interest to play cricket, to RCB and try him out in IPL.
"We played a charity match. Blake bowled, I hit it in the air and (World and Olympic sprint champion Usain) Bolt took the catch. I want to bring him (Blake) to RCB when he is free and set him to play IPL and prove himself."Â Â
Gayle also said he is an out and out supporter of hosts Brazil in next month's FIFA World Cup.
"I am a Brazil fan all the way. We Jamaicans support Brazil. And I also support Portugal because of Cristiano Ronaldo," he said.