FORMER West Indies manager Omar Khan says the "Universe Boss" Chris Gayle should "definitely" be in the West Indies team for the 2019 ICC World Cup, which bowls off in England and Wales.
On Sunday, Gayle said he plans to retire from One-Day International cricket after the big event, which will be held from May 30 to July 14.
Gayle was reported as saying, "I'm looking to draw the line – or should I say cut the string – let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand."
Khan, who worked alongside Gayle when he was the West Indies manager, thinks the hard-hitting Jamaican opening batsman should be in the squad for the World Cup.
He said, "Gayle in any team is an asset, he has a wealth of experience...Once you see Gayle in a batting line up, any opposition bowling attack will have fear in their minds and psychologically that will be an advantage to the West Indies. I definitely think that Gayle should be part of the set-up."
Gayle has played 284 ODIs, scoring 9,727 runs at an average of 37.12 with 23 centuries and 49 fifties. Gayle, 39, is only behind Brian Lara among the top scorers in West Indies ODI cricket history. Lara scored 10,405 runs at an average of 40.48 with 19 centuries and 63 fifties.
In recent years, Gayle has scored centuries and half centuries for West Indies in ODI cricket, but he has also struggled to contribute significantly on a consistent basis.
In 2015, he scored 411 runs in 11 ODI matches at an average of 37.36. However, in one of the those innings he scored 215 against Zimbabwe. Therefore in the other ten matches he only scored 196 runs at an average of 19.6. After not representing West Indies in 2016, Gayle played six matches in 2017. During that year he scored 199 runs in matches against England and New Zealand at an average of 33.17. His highest score that year was 94, therefore he only averaged 21 in the other five innings.
In the 2019 World Cup qualifiers last year in Zimbabwe, Gayle started off with a bang, hitting 123 against United Arab Emirates. However, he struggled for the rest of the tournament scoring 14 (against Ireland), one (Afghanistan), 17 (Zimbabwe), duck (Scotland) and ten (Afghanistan). However, in a three-match series against Bangladesh in the Caribbean, he showed form with 40, 29 and 73 to end the series with an average of 47.33. He ended 2018 with 307 runs with an average of 34.11.
Khan says Gayle's experience playing in England will help the Windies team. "Gayle can give you a flying start, he could bat, he has the experience now and he knows the English conditions – all those are added values that he brings to the team," he said.
Gayle is closing in on 10,000 runs, but Khan says the opening batsman does not pay much attention to statistics, but he will cherish milestones when he achieves them.
Khan says Gayle is still one of the best entertainers in world cricket. He said, "Chris Gayle on the go, any day, would be one of the greatest sights in world cricket and blasting the bowling all over the place – he is really a class act."