He is known as the Universe Boss. The storm that can blow away an entire opposition team single-handedly. He is both feared and loved in equal measure when on the pitch. It is difficult then, to think of a more destructive force in the world of cricket than Chris Gayle. Hence, when he says he idolised another opener, then that says a lot about the batsman’s quality.
“I grew up with a lot of cricket happening around me in my city. I lived next to Lucas Cricket Club and I used to go and score the board and watch my older brother at that time,” said Chris in a chat with kxip.in recalling his days in Kingston as a shy and lanky child.
Son of a policeman, Chris was the fifth child out of six. His older brother, Vanclive Parris, played cricket at a youth level for Jamaica, and Lucas and Kensington in the Senior Cup as an off spinner, a skill that even Chris now possesses.
“There were these two opening batsmen,” Gayle continued. “One of whom was Delroy Morgan, who played first class cricket but unfortunately never eventually went on to represent the country.”
Morgan, a right-hand batsman, used to open the batting for Jamaica, scoring 2,878 runs in his career between 1986 and 2000 at a modest average of 27.94, but he was inspiring enough. Gayle even skipped school to watch the fellow Lucas-man's textbook shots and has waxed lyrical about him in his autobiography Six Machine: I Don't Like Cricket ... I Love It.
“So, I used to watch those two as a youngster, and then obviously as you get older you start watching international cricket. But it was them who got me started.”
From the young boy who watched the Jamaican legend Morgan, Gayle eventually broke into the side and started playing with the big boys of Lucas Cricket Club soon after. And as things transpired, Delroy's bat eventually landed in Chris' hands as a gift when the two opened the batting together for Lucas.
In one of the matches they played together, Delroy scored a century while Chris grabbed four wickets, one of which was caught by his idol. Gayle had arrived.
But his main motivation for taking up the sport remained the love his family had for the sports and the enjoyment he saw on their faces when they played it.
“My family inspired me to become a cricketer to be honest. They all played cricket, so that kick started my career,” revealed the Universe Boss.
He has since become not just a legend in Jamaica but the world over for his big hits and utter domination of bowling attacks. Seeing him in full flow now must surely be making his old cricket hero Morgan very proud.