Here at Right Off the Bat we’ve had occasion in the past to wax lyrical about Chris Gayle, the West Indian opening batsman and destroyer of bowling attacks, but today’s destruction requires a special mention. In the course of only 66 balls, Gayle smashed 175 runs not out. His was the highest score in Indian Premier League history, and indeed the highest individual total in Twenty20 history. He reached his century in only 30 balls, making his the fastest century in any form of professional cricket since records began. His total included a brain-melting 17—yes, seventeen, sixes: the highest number ever scored in any innings. Gayle’s knock helped his side, Royal Challengers Bangalore, to reach 263-5, the largest total ever scored in the IPL or in Twenty20 history. RCB’s challengers, the Pune Warriors, didn’t know where to put the ball.
Gayle has a certain stillness at the crease that makes what he does seem effortless. He’s tall and strong and he wields a heavy bat, but it’s his preternatural calmness and casual ability to loft any delivery high into the stands (or, in today’s case, onto and then over the roof of the stadium) that gives him a special aura. “Rampage” was one of the words used to describe Gayle’s performance today in Bangalore, and it’s hard to disagree with the choice of words. Here is the man himself talking about his innings—with a bit of Telagu thrown in at the end.
So..having just found this great blog thanks to Evander.. a question. Have you worked out a way of equating cricket performance to baseball. My learned British friend in New Jersey equated this performance today to a 7HR, 15RBI game. Thoughts? Similarly I tried to put 99.94 (Bradman) into a career baseball average and came up with something like .450. Have you actually got a base for comparison?
These comparisons seem just about right. However, the fact that Gayle broke so many records in one innings should be enough to convince even someone who knows nothing about the game of cricket that something extraordinary just happened. We also think that any baseball fan watching Gayle in his pomp would recognize a hitter of extraordinary power and almost superhuman hand–eye coordination. The clean, resonant sound off Gayle’s bat and the slow, even arc of his swing would be satisfactions familiar to fans of either sport.
Regarding The Don’s career average, no one in major-league history likewise towers above all the others. The equivalent .450 batting average (to Ty Cobb’s .367, though current thinking may add even another point to this average) is a good start at comprehending Bradman’s celestial record. We can only think that Babe Ruth’s command in 1921 establishes something of a baseball-alternative over a single season. With 59 home runs, Ruth bombed more of them than seven other major-league teams. (Think of it!) In another mind-warping event that October, during the World Series against the Giants (both teams played at the Polo Grounds) and as a member of “the visiting team,” Ruth laid down a bunt for the win in Game 5, though his Yankees lost their first World Series five games to three. (Yes: an eight-game World Series, as similarly played 1919 and 1920. Ruth appears to have sat out two of the 1921 games, recording only 16 AB.)