Somerset have confirmed the high-profile signing of Chris Gayle, agreeing a short term deal in which the Jamaican bludgeoner could play as many as six games in this season’s NatWest T20 Blast within a three week period in May and June.
Continually regarded as one of the most destructive batsmen in the shortened format of the game, Gayle will fly into the West Country after he has fulfilled his commitments with his IPL franchise, Royal Challengers Bangalore. It is for the RCB that he has hit the fastest T20 ton (in 30 balls) and highest T20 score (175* in the same innings). These kinds of numbers put bums on seats and fresh from his magnificent 215 against Zimbabwe in the ICC World Cup, the Somerset fans have been reassured that Gayle still contains the minerals to hit big, long and fast when it matters.
“I’m excited about joining Somerset for the NatWest T20 Blast this year,” Gayle said. “Many of the club’s members and supporters will know that I came close to playing for the county in 2012 and I have always felt that, if I was able to, I wanted to honour that commitment to Somerset. I’m looking forward to coming to Taunton and scoring some runs.”
Somerset are no strangers to acquiring the services of top class and entertaining West Indian cricketers as the famous years of Sir Viv Richards and Joel Garner of the mid 70’s and mid 80’s will testify. Not that Gayle can possibly create anywhere near the same impact in a hatful of games as those two legends did, but the same Caribbean flair displayed by Gayle will surely evoke memories of matches gone by down at The County Ground in Taunton.
Back to the present day and Gayle will be joining New Zealand’s rapidly rising young star Corey Anderson to complete the powerful left-handed overseas line-up for Somerset. Ten years Gayle’s junior, Anderson shot into the global cricketing spotlight with his then World Record 36 ball ODI ton against the West Indies back in January 2014 and his stock has been rising ever since.
Anderson is a product of the modern T20 era with his muscular physique, dynamic shot selection, steely composure and sheer brute force when willow meets leather. All this was beautifully displayed during his high pressured and match-defining innings of 58 off 57 balls in the tense World Cup semi-final win over South Africa batting at number six. An innings of an experienced veteran for someone so young.
It’s been ten long years since Somerset have won the domestic T20 competition, having tasted their only glory in 2005. In the last six seasons they have finished runners up in three consecutive years (2009, 2010 and 2011) and a quarter-final defeat in 2013 followed a semi-final departure in 2012. Last season they failed to get out of the group stage and the expectant and the annually frustrated Somerset faithful will hope the two C’s of Chris and Corey will batter, bludgeon and bully the enemy counties bowlers to all parts of the nation to help Somerset craft another “C” – Champions.
It’s going to be quite a Blast.