West Indies batting maestro Chris Gayle announced that he will bid farewell to ODI cricket after this year’s World Cup in England and Wales.
The 39-year-old power-hitting opener, who has scored 9,727 runs in 284 ODIs, is set to play his first international since July 2018 against England on Wednesday.
The self-styled ‘Universe Boss’ appears confident that he can bow out in style after a 20-year career built on brutal hitting at the top of the order.
“You’re looking at a great man,” he told ESPNcricinfo.com. “I’m the greatest player in the world. Of course I’m still the ‘Universe Boss’. That will never change. I’ll take that to the grave.”
Gayle needs 677 more runs to surpass the great Brian Lara as the West Indies’ all-time record ODI runscorer, a feat he will be hoping to achieve at his fifth World Cup, which starts on May 30.
The Windies begin their bid for a third World Cup title on May 31 against Pakistan.
“I’ll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun. Winning the World Cup would be a fairytale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I’ll be looking to put my input in as well,” said Gayle.
Gayle has been mainly a T20 specialist since making his last Test appearance in 2014, and most recently played in the Bangladesh Premier League earlier this month.
He will continue playing franchise cricket, with the T20 World Cup in two years’ time potentially on the agenda.
“I’m in good condition. The body is feeling good and I’m pleased with that. I’ve lost a bit of weight and I don’t want to get too big. I’m still working on my six pack. I’m trying to keep up with the youngsters in the field who are like cats the way they chase the ball. I still have it in me and I’m still enjoying it,” he added.
Since making his debut in 1999, Gayle has also scored a national record of 23 ODI hundreds, including the first ever World Cup double century against Zimbabwe four years ago.
The game in Barbados on Wednesday is the first of a five-match series against World Cup favourites England.