A THORNY ISSUE – Gayle in the hot seat . . . again!
VERY OFTEN in contact sports the person who commits the foul goes free but the one who retaliates gets punished.
This scenario can be brought into play in respect of former West Indies captain Chris Gayle.
It was West Indies coach Ottis Gibson who lit the fires of the ongoing saga between Gayle and the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) when he accused the senior players of not pulling their weight in the World Cup.
Although Gibson didn’t call anyone by name, the pundits felt they could identify his targets.
Gayle and Shivnarine Chanderpaul took the bait and responded to the coach’s proclamation. Their responses were symbolic of their respective approaches to batting.
Chanderpaul’s was slightly circumspect and he was able to mend fences later.
Gayle’s was typically robust. His verbal attack on the board was rampant and bruising, occasioning hurt and pain as he spilled his guts in a radio interview.
From that moment he became a marked man, a cricketing pariah as the WICB demanded a retraction of his comments.
The lanky opener has stood his ground, insisting that there was nothing to be sorry for. He has met with board representatives, but the matter has not been resolved.
He even appealed to CARICOM leaders to help resolve the controversy, while restating his commitment to West Indies cricket if given the chance to play again.
That didn’t change anything.
Only last week, the board gave Gayle an ultimatum to apologize if he wants to wear the regional colours again.
So far he has remained mum. Perhaps only his inner circle knows what he is thinking.
A critical point in the saga is that at no time has his own national association appeared to side with him.
Jamaicans are well known for showing solidarity with their own once they think there is a strong case to plead.
This tells me that while they may secretly think that Gayle made some salient points in the interview, his approach may have been wrong.
Gayle is no diplomat and it wasn’t the first time that he had taken the board to task in a public forum.
Even though he may have been chided in the past there was no strong reprimand.He probably felt he could get away with it again based on the antecedents.
In the words of another famous Jamaican, Bob Marley, he appeared to have drawn bad card. The tables were turned as Gibson seeks to rebuild regional cricket with the emphasis placed on discipline.
Cricket great Clive Lloyd has sided with the board calling on Gayle to say sorry, whilst acknowledging that as a senior player he still has an important role in guiding the youngsters through a rocky path.
So, basically, the ball is in Gayle’s court to bang out of the park or to gently pat it back to the bowler and shake hands, agreeing that the game will end in a stalemate so there’s no point bowling the remaining overs.
In short, Gayle’s only way back is to eat humble pie even though he didn’t launch the first verbal assault.
There’s a biblical reference which says you have to give Caesar what is his and to God what is his.
At points in life we have to make concessions in order to achieve our goals and very often experience teaches that it is best to take the higher ground to harness success.
While it is true that there have been numerous occasions when the board goofed and nobody paid a price and while Gibson may have been short on tact after the World Cup, I believe it is in Gayle’s best interest to apologize so that he can contribute to the restoration of regional cricketing pride.
Not only that, while he continues to plunder attacks in the various international T20 leagues, it is in West Indies colours that he will establish his legacy.
Further, though, it should be noted that none of the protagonists involved in the saga is bigger than the game and once that is recognized this matter can and should be resolved.
Andi Thornhill is sports editor at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation.