CHRIS Gayle’s decision to opt out of this year’s Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament is being viewed as a major blow to the “biggest party in sport.”
The talismanic Jamaican batsman decided to pull out from the August 18 to September 10 tourney citing personal reasons, just one day before the official CPL draft. He was scheduled to represent St. Lucia Zouks after a fallout with Jamaica Tallawahs following the 2019 season.
On Monday, Gayle communicated to the club that he has been unable to spend time with his family over the past few months due to regional travel restrictions courtesy coronavirus.
Throughout this duration, Gayle has been stuck in Jamaica while his family remains grounded in St Kitts. St Lucia Zouks has also confirmed Gayle’s omission.
When the news broke on Tuesday of Gayle’s unexpected exclusion, Trinbago Kinght Riders (TKR) manager Collin Borde admitted his absence would be a great loss to the annual tourney.
The hard-hitting batsman is known for his on-field theatrics with the bat although he has struggled with consistency in the past few years. At the 2019 CPL, Gayle aggregated 243 runs in ten matches including a century as the Jamaica Tallawahs, along with the St. Lucia Zouks, failed to make the play-off stage.
“Chris Gayle brings everything that’s needed to a cricket match, Fun, fury, fire, flair. He will be sorely missed,” said the TKR administrator.
The cricketer’s sudden decision is understood to have rattled St. Lucia’s plans for Wednesday’s draft. For the first time since its inception, the player draft will be conducted virtually due to current travel restrictions within the region.
The Zouks signed up Gayle as one of their key marquee players outside the draft within the US $130,000 - 160,000 price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.
Newsday reached out to CPL public relations head Peter Miller, via WhatsApp, for a comment on Gayle’s sudden decision to opt out.
He responded, “We understand that Chris has decided to not take part in CPL for personal reasons. We wish Chris all the best for the rest of 2020 and hope to see him back at CPL in 2021.”
Additionally, it was not revealed whether Gayle’s decision was influenced by the proposed pay cut by the CPL due to the global pandemic.
Recently, CPL operations manager Michael Hall said top-earning players would be asked to take a pay cut of up to 30 per cent compared to the 2019 contract. In Gayle’s case, he would have received about $112,000 after the 30 per cent proposed cut from the Zouks.
It is understood that players and staff from all the six franchises have accepted the pay cuts although the CPL has not sent out any details.