West Indies coach Phil Simmons likened Chris Gayle’s destructive batting to that of Viv Richards and said Gayle was “up there with Sir Vivian” in tearing apart bowling attacks.
Gayle became the first batsman to score two hundreds in the World T20 after his unbeaten 100 off 48 balls helped West Indies ease their way to a six-wicket win. His previous had come in the first ever World T20 match when West Indies opened the 2007 tournament against South Africa. He also overtook Brendon McCullum’s record for the most number of sixes in the Twenty20 format, and closed in on a century of them.
“To destroy an attack like that, I think the only person in my time that I would put him with is Sir Vivian because Sir Vivian used to go out there and destroy attacks like that so I think he is up there with Sir Viv in the way he tears apart attacks,” Simmons said.
He said his instructions to Gayle were simple: stay at the crease for 15 overs. “Bat 15 overs for me. That’s all I need from you. I know that once you bat fifteen overs we are somewhere near to the target that we want, whether we are setting or chasing.”
When asked if such a convincing win was a big statement from the team, Simmons said, “there is more to come.” He was, however, non-committal when asked if Gayle’s innings was a message to the WICB in lieu of the ongoing contract dispute, but said it was a message to other teams in the tournament.
He was equally vague in his response to a question on Gayle papering over the team’s weaknesses, but suggested in a round-about manner that West Indies weren’t averse to riding on Gayle’s form.
“All teams have weaknesses but all teams have strengths too,” he said. “If we use our strength and if your strength negates your weakness then that’s how you win games. It’s up to other people to explore our weaknesses like we would theirs.”
Simmons also praised the performance of Marlon Samuels for setting up the chase, and said an attacking role at the top was what he envisioned for him. “We all talk about Chris today but I think Marlon set up the game today nicely for us because of the way he played,” he said. “And he took a lot of pressure off Chris and I think that’s the way we have been trying to get him to play because we know when he plays like that he is a class act. And if we can get him to play like that in every match – he mightn’t get off in every match but he will get some 70s and 80s also and win games for us.”
The fact West Indies chasing 183, rather than something over 200, was another significant tick for Simmons although felt his side had leaked a few too many runs at either end of the innings.
“We tried to make sure they didn’t go much past 180. I think the last three overs and the first six we still gave a bit too many but we started well. I was happy to see how things went in the field too. What we do in the field is going to make us win the tournament.”