Cricket is getting more entertaining day by day, especially after the introduction of the popular Twenty20 format. Fast scoring in the shortest version of the game has also affected ODIs and Tests.
In the ‘70s and ‘80s and even in the mid ‘90s, there were few Test matches which produced results. Most matches ended in a draw, due to batsmen’s long stay at the crease as they waited for bad balls.
Since the introduction of Twenty20 leagues, the pace has increased manifold. Batsmen now try to hit almost every ball out of the ground.
The first Twenty20 International match was played between Australia and New Zealand in 2005. The shortest format of the game got popular quickly and the International Cricket Council (ICC) introduced T20 championship whose first edition was held in South Africa in 2007.
It is generally assumed that T20 is the game of young guns, but if we see the statistics, oldies have been dominating the game.
Last week during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) final between Rangpur Riders and Dhaka Dynamites, former West Indian captain Chris Gayle became the first batsman to reach 11,000 runs in Twenty20 cricket. The Caribbean star achieved the milestone in his 320th Twenty20 game. His masterful unbeaten innings of 146 off 69 deliveries gave Rangpur Riders their first BPL title. The score is also the highest ever in a T20 final.
The Jamaican left-hander is the only player to have scored 11,000 or more in first class, list A and Twenty20 games. He has scored 11,056 runs in Twenty20 format so far with a healthy average of 40.94 and strike rate of 149.02.
Playing for Rangpur Riders, Gayle created a new record of hitting 18 sixes in a Twenty20 innings. He surpassed his own record of 17 sixes which he set during his unbeaten 175 against Pune Warriors in Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2013.
During his amazing innings in the final, Gayle also completed 100 sixes in Bangladesh Premier League. He is the first one to do so. His total sixes tally in T20 cricket is 819 in 321 matches.
The 38-year-old holds the record of scoring most centuries in Twenty20 format. He has 20. His closest competitors — Michael Klinger, Luke Wright and Brendon McCullum — are far behind with seven centuries each. He has also scored 68 fifties in Twenty20.
During his 20 hundreds, he struck 227 sixes, at an average of over 11 sixes per innings. His strike rate in these 20 hundreds is 208.19.
Gayle is a player who doesn’t believe in scoring runs in ones and twos. He hits the ball unbelievably hard with tremendous power and hits the sixes around the ground with ease.
The left-handed opener was also the highest run-getter in the recently concluded BPL with 485 runs in 11 matches. He averaged 54 and had a strike rate of 176.
An anchorperson asked Gayle after the BPL final if he thought himself the Don Bradman of T20s, he replied in a lighter mood: “I am the greatest batsman of all time.”
His statement is true at least in the Twenty20 format.
Gayle holds the record for most runs (11,056), most sixes (819) and most fours (833) in the Twenty20 format. He has scored the fastest T20 century — off just 30 balls. He is the joint record holder of scoring the fastest fifty — off just 12 balls.
He is the only player to score a century in T20 international, a double hundred in ODIs and a triple century in Test matches.
Gayle scored the first century in Twenty20 Internationals: 117 against South Africa in the 2007 World T20. Thus, he became the first batsman to score a century in all three international formats.
Gayle made his T20 debut for the PCA Masters XI in September 2005. He played his first Twenty20 International against New Zealand in February 2006 in which he scored only 10 runs.
He has played in nearly every T20 league in every major cricket-playing nation in the world.
Interestingly, out of his 11,056 T20 runs, only 1577 were scored for the West Indies — in 52 matches. He has played for Barisal Bulls, Chittagong Vikings, Dhaka Gladiators, Jamaica, Jamaica Tallawahs, Karachi Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders, Lahore Qalandars, Lions, Matabeleland Tuskers, Melbourne Renegades, PCA XI, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Somerset, Stanford Superstars, Sydney Thunder, Western Australia and Rangpur Riders.
There is a huge gap (2,530 runs) between the top scorer Gayle and the second highest run-getter, former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum who has 8,526 runs in 309 matches.
He is also the first batsman who hit a six off the first ball of a Test match. He did that against debutant off spinner Sohag Gazi of Bangladesh in Mirpur in 2012 and finished the first over with 18 runs on the board.