West Indies star Chris Gayle believes the International Cricket Council have something to learn from the Indian Premier League (IPL) when it comes to publicising events such as the Champions Trophy.
Once described as the “unwanted child” of world cricket by Australian former ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed, the seventh and final edition of the Champions Trophy will start in Cardiff on June 6.
Although rocked by recent spot-fixing allegations, the lucrative IPL has captivated crowds in India, where the enthusiasm for cricket in the world’s second most-populous nation provides the bulk of the finance that fuels the global game.
“I think it is down to how they actually promote it to be honest,” the star batsman said at the launch of the Chris Gayle Academy in Wallington, south of London.
The 33-year-old left-hander played for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the latest IPL and caused worldwide headlines with the fastest-ever Twenty20 century, taking just 30 balls to reach three figures against Pune Warriors.
Gayle struck an astonishing 17 sixes and 13 fours on his way to an unbeaten 175 from 66 balls – the highest individual IPL score.
“There is no doubt that the IPL is huge but I think what is higher than the IPL is any World Cup-style event,” Gayle said.
“This is the Champions Trophy but it is not so well highlighted (in the media) when compared to the IPL. I think once they can start making people gravitate back to the 50-over game it will be a good thing.
“This is the last Champions Trophy and I don’t know what the ICC will do and whether they will replace it, we will have to wait and see, the promotion will have to be good.”The West Indies have won the Champions Trophy once, in 2004 when it was last played in England.
“We can still take a lot from it, regardless of the fact that nine years is a long time ago,” said Gayle, who last year helped the West Indies win the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
“We can still see it as a positive as a West Indies team came here and won the competition in the cold conditions. You also have to take into consideration that we have won the T20 World Cup and are a team of champions. We play good cricket.”Drawn in Group B alongside India, Pakistan and South Africa, the West Indies will have their work cut out to reach the semi-finals.
Gayle said it was vital they made a good start in their tournament opener against Pakistan at The Oval on June 7.
“It is a huge group. A tough, tough group and we have some great players in there, the first game will be key and that can set the tone for the tournament.”Gayle was speaking at the launch of a project that saw him teaming up with Cricket for Change, an educational cricket charity and funders Comic Relief to create ‘The Chris Gayle Academy’ in Kingston, Jamaica and London.
The aim of the academy will be to take a final squad of up to 18 young people on a journey of self-development using cricket as a means to motivate and inspire them.