JAMAICAN big-hitter Chris Gayle has opted out of the 2020 Caribbean Premier League (CPL) due to personal reasons, just one day before the official player draft.
Gayle was scheduled to represent St Lucia Zouks at this year’s edition.
On Monday, the talismanic batsman 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.
Over 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.
The annual tourney bowls off from August 18 to September 10 in TT pending permission from the government.
On his decision to abruptly pull out of the 2020 competition, a CPL spokesperson said, “We understand that Chris has decided to not take part in CPL personal reasons. We wish Chris all the best for the rest of 2020 and hope to see him back at CPL in 2021.”
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.
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.
Despite being the highest run-maker in T20s, Gayle has struggled with consistency in the past few years. Last CPL, he aggregated 243 runs in 10 matches including a century as the Jamaica Tallawahs, along with the St. Lucia Zouks, failed to make the play-off stage. Gayle has also not featured for West Indies since the 2019 World Cup.