Windies opener Chris Gayle, who announced he will retire from one-day international cricket after the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, remains ever-confident and has sounded a warning to England's opening bowlers ahead of the upcoming ODI series between the sides.
The 39-year-old star, who has scored 23 ODI centuries along with 49 fifties for Windies, will be returning to the 50-over side for the three-match series against England as preparations for CWC19, which starts 30 May, get underway in full earnest.
When on-song, Gayle can destroy the most potent of bowling attacks and the left-hander reminded England's bowlers of the threat he possesses. He feels his body is in good shape and is trying to keep up with the younger people in the team, who are 'like cats' on the field.
"I'm in good condition," he said at Kensington Oval on Sunday, 17 February. "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.
"I don't know who is opening the bowling for England, but any bowler is going to beware of Chris Gayle. That doesn't change because he is 39 now, they are going to be saying 'yes, he's got some grey hair in his beard, let's get him now, this is the perfect time to get the 'Universe Boss' now he is 39.'"
He went on to assert that he would always be the 'Universe Boss', a title he conferred upon himself. And while he still had gas left in the tank, he was stepping away to see the next generation of Windies stars take over, he said.
"You're looking at a great man," he said. "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. I'm looking to draw the line after the World Cup.
"Or should I say cut the string? Definitely, in 50-over cricket, the World Cup is the end for me. I'll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun."
It is also very likely to be Gayle's final ODI series in the Caribbean, and the big man is keen to put on a show. The venue for the first ODI, the Kensington Oval in Barbados, is where Gayle played his most recent List A game, which was his farewell game for Jamaica against Barbados. Gayle had knocked a brisk century then, and hopes to draw on that confidence.
Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win.
"This series against England might be the last time people get to see the 'Universe Boss' on local soil. The last game I played in Barbados for Jamaica I got a hundred and it would be nice to continue where I left off and entertain the home fans as much as possible. At the end of the day everybody should be happy and enjoy the game."
Looking forward to the CWC19, Gayle expressed his strong desire to win the title for a first time and urged the youngsters in the team to do it for him.
"Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish," he said. "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."
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