An ODI double-hundred should feel monumental. This one felt inevitable. The fastest ODI double-hundred should feel exhilarating, like a rollercoaster ride. This felt like a quiet drive home from a suburban Tupperware party. That’s what Chris Gayle does.
This was the fifth double-century in ODIs, and it came exactly five years after Sachin Tendulkar first reached the landmark. Once a year is too frequent a rate for the milestone to be special any more, and since it was Gayle, it answered the question of when rather than if. Interviewed right after his dismissal off the final ball of the innings, Gayle himself said a lot of people had expected it from him, and “hounded” him to get one.
Inevitable, then. Even though he had gone 19 months without an ODI hundred. Even though – but perhaps it kindled a flame within him – his own board president had retweeted, less than a week ago, a fan asking for Gayle to be given a ‘retirement package’.
Gayle finished on 215 from 147 balls. He hit 10 fours and sent 16 sixes flying over the straight boundary or into a group of fans dressed as a coven of witches beyond the midwicket boundary. At the other end, unnoticed, Marlon Samuels made his highest ODI score and played second fiddle in a partnership of 372, the highest for any wicket in ODIs.