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25 February 201505:23

Can Gayle's X-Factor carry West Indies all the way at #cwc15?

X-Factor. Some have it, many don’t. When Chris Gayle is at the peak of his trade, he epitomises it.

Can Gayle's X-Factor carry West Indies all the way at #cwc15? - Cricket News

Chris Gayle's 215 overtook Gary Kirsten's 188* in 1996 as the highest CWC score.

When Chris Gayle strode to the crease against Zimbabwe at Manuka Oval he was sorely out of form, had been the subject of seemingly constant controversy and had averaged 14.42 from his last 20 ODI innings.

His last one-day ton was in June 2013 and his first two knocks at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 had produced lacklustre scores of four and 36.

If i get past a hundred I'm definitely going to make it a big one and I'm happy to get to my first double century in ODI cricket.

Chris Gayle
Nonetheless, the West Indies was coming off a good win over Pakistan and the dedicated fans who had braved a drizzly Tuesday afternoon in Canberra were hopeful of seeing some excitement from the Windies’ big hitters.

Those hopes were dulled somewhat when Dwayne Smith was dismissed for a duck on the second ball of the innings. Gayle himself could have been out LBW for naught two balls later, but received the benefit of the umpire’s call. How different the day could have been had that ball been travelling an inch lower.

When Gayle reached three figures off 105 balls, the West Indies fans – and the crowd, in general – were pleased to see him back in the runs.

It was as he blazed his second 100 off just 33 balls that the atmosphere of the ground was transformed. Suddenly, the rain that had continued to fall (fortunately not enough to warrant leaving the field) since the start of the innings mattered little.

The excitement of the spectators grew exponentially with each Gayle six. Crowd catches were held, others were dropped and a spectator busy updating Twitter about the innings they were witnessing ducked to evade yet another huge Gayle shot.

Team alliances didn’t matter. A volunteer who did not even understand the rules of cricket was watching in delight. She may not have understood exactly what she was witnessing (take a deep breath) – the highest World Cup score ever, the third highest ODI score, the highest ODI partnership, a record-equalling 16 sixes, the fastest ever ODI double century, the highest team total on Australian soil, the first player outside India to score 200 in an ODI and the first player to score a 300 in Tests, 200 in ODIs and 100 in T20I – but she knew it was special.

That’s what a player like Gayle is capable of. On a wet weekday afternoon the mood at Manuka Oval was electric. Those watching were witnessing history and a fixture that already so important for both teams’ finals hopes become something else altogether.
“I was there” will be an oft-repeated phrase in offices around Canberra tomorrow.

When Gayle eventually strode back to the rooms, triumphant and cramping after facing 147 balls and smashing a World Cup record 215 from them, the crowd was on its feet while his teammates had been waiting impatiently to congratulate him since the 48-over mark.

Gayle expressed his relief following the innings, acknowledging the crowd he had held captivated for the previous 50 overs: "There's been a lot of pressure. The runs haven't been coming. So many people wanted me to score runs. And I'm really glad I gave them something to cheer about."

Players like Gayle make World Cups. Already the tournament has seen a handful of classic performances, including Brendan McCullum’s fastest World Cup fifty in Wellington and Tim Southee 7-33 in the same match.

At home on the Television Broadcast, viewers were aptly asked, 'Which #cwc15 Player has the Biggest X-Factor?', despite the other 3 names being De Villiers, Maxwell and Afridi it was Chris Gayle the viewers went with as over 66% had their say.

Gayle’s innings makes Friday’s match at the Sydney Cricket Ground one to salivate over. One featuring the big-hitting powers of Gayle and AB de Villiers, with West Indies on a high and South Africa attempting to hit back after being thrashed by India.

Even more importantly, Gayle’s innings will give the West Indies the boost it needed after a mixed start to the tournament. The Windies are now in a good position to make the quarter-finals and could potentially play either Australia or New Zealand in a knock-out match. If Gayle fires again, anything could happen.