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‘A huge milestone’

Chris Gayle is playing his 100th Test against New Zealand, in Kingston

Calcutta: Chris Gayle is all set to become the ninth West Indies player to feature in 100 Tests, joining an elite club that includes Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Courtney Walsh, Brian Lara, Viv Richards, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge and Carl Hooper.

He is also just 67 runs shy of becoming the eighth West Indian to amass 7000 Test runs. With the venue of the West Indies-New Zealand first Test (beginning Sunday) being his hometown Kingston, Jamaica, Gayle admitted in a pre-match media conference that it is going to be a “very special occasion”.

Excerpts

On the 100th Test match milestone

This is a huge milestone, this is very special... It all started in Rollington Town — I used to play cricket on the street. Then I moved to Lucas Cricket Club and here I am today, about to play my 100th Test match for the West Indies.

If he had ever dreamt of playing 100 Tests

I didn’t really think of reaching this milestone… I first wanted to play three Tests on the trot. There were a lot of challenges on way to reaching the 100th Test… I pat myself on the back that I have come this far. Challenges are there for a reason.

The first day of his Test career

It was way back in 2000, versus Zimbabwe… In my first match, I was a bit nervous… I even shed tears. To share a dressing room with (Curtly) Ambrose and (Courtney) Walsh, and fielding at first slip with the two big men bowling, it was fantastic.

In the first innings, I was run out in a mix-up with Sherwin Campbell. I remember going back to the dressing room and crying like a baby… It was a special match and one I will remember for all times.

On his memorable 333-run innings against Sri Lanka in 2010

That innings (at Galle, in November 2010) stands out in my mind. Over the years, playing against Sri Lanka, I didn’t get a lot of runs. I had a terrible series there before — I was dismissed by Chaminda Vaas five times out of six. My highest score was 47 and I was never dominant against them. When I got the century, I lied flat on the ground and I told myself I wanted to make it a ‘big one’. I pushed for it and got the triple century.

When I reached the triple, I took a deep breath and sucked it all in. I was really pleased with it.

Another milestone for me was to beat England in 2009 at home. As a captain, it was brilliant for me. We had some close calls in that series and it was very special. It was a brilliant series and was one of the highlights of my career.

If Sabina Park is his favourite ground

It is. It is very special to play cricket at Sabina Park. The fans in Jamaica are a very hard lot to please. They will curse you and love you and I am accustomed to that. There are huge expectations. You have to be criticised as a player. That builds you up as a sportsman. I will not be nervous. It will be good to have home support with all our fans cheering for us.

On his goals in his milestone Test

Hopefully, we can win this Test and celebrate. I will look to contribute to the team’s success. The focus is on winning. It will be most memorable to get a win and start the series on a winning note.

The occasion is big not just for me, but for the team as well — I am sure everyone will be rallying around me. I have had my challenges coming up to my 100th Test match. I want to keep scoring runs and represent the West Indies as long as I can.

His achievements…

The most pleasing thing is that I have made a lot of people happy. I have brought happiness and I have made an impact and I am happy about that. To make an impact on other people’s lives is important to me. I have been a motivational factor. Once the people are happy, I am happy. I have entertained. I have become a role model for the youngsters. That’s special.