Gayle has been around international cricket for two decades now, having made his debut in 1999. He announced earlier this year that the 2019 editions of cricket’s flagship tournament would mark his final appearance in Windies ODI colours.
“Time does fly quickly,” Gayle told Press Trust of India. “I could never dream of playing so many World Cups, but it has happened. It shows consistency in the career. That keeps you going and earn a lot of praise. Hard work in the last couple of has years paid off. People want to see you more and you are trying to deliver as much as possible.”
Since deciding to step away, Gayle has been in imperious one-day form. He began his final run as an ODI cricketer with scores of 135, 50, 162 and 77 in four matches against England at home.
If Gayle shows up in similar form during the World Cup, it could spell ominous signs for teams around the world. He admitted that he did consider walking away earlier, but credited the continuous support from the fans for keeping him going.
“Honestly [I do it for] the fans, I am not going to lie. Maybe a couple of years ago, the thought [of retiring] did cross,” he said. “Then the fans came out and said, ‘don’t go’. They actually drive me to go on. I know nothing lasts forever and, hopefully, I can give them a few more games. And it also pushes you to win the World Cup.”
The Cricket West Indies board has seen a number of structural changes, under the stewardship of the new president, Ricky Skerritt. They have also turned over a leaf on the field, under the captaincy of Jason Holder, registering a famous Test series win against England at home and holding the No.1-ranked side to a stalemate in the ODI series that followed.
“We have seen changes [in the cricket board] in the last couple of months,” Gayle said. “Cricket is the most important thing for the Caribbean. Hope they take the game to where it is supposed to be. On the field, we had a good series against England. Now the World Cup is coming up, and that is another opportunity for us to turn things around.”