Chris Gayle’s core strength

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Chris Gayle comes out swinging from the abdomen

It’s generally best to avoid writing about Chris Gayle, because he seems to draw admiration – and therefore blog comments – from the biggest dickheads on the planet.

It’s not that there’s nothing to admire about Gayle’s batting. It’s just that a rich seam of knobheadery sits alongside rational, justifiable appreciation. Don’t follow his Twitter feed, because he frequently answers questions from what can accurately be described as his fans. These people exhibit an unironic level of hero worship that we find really depressing. Maybe we’re just embittered because they appear to find his non-jokes funny. There’s little more dispiriting than idiocy that also devalues what you do.

But back to sport, John Hotten has written a nice summary of how and why Gayle is such a singular cricketer in the shortest format. In essence, he’s reliable, but he also has an unusual ability to hit sixes once he’s played himself in. We’ve always been struck by how hard Gayle hits the ball with such little effort and we reckon it’s all in the core.

It’s not in The Core – you’d be hard-pressed to get anything useful out of that. It’s in the totally uncool sets of muscles that span your midriff. Gayle is known for being built like a masonry khazi with big cannonball shoulders and biceps which for some reason are always described as ‘rippling’ as if they’re flobbling about rather than solid. But there are plenty of batsmen who are – in the parlance of our times – ‘ripped’ and who don’t seem to hit the ball in the same way.

When you hit a cricket ball, you do so using a whole host of muscles. Your legs and torso are the foundations for all that follows. They are what braces against the impact of ball on bat and if they do not give, you get a better return from your cover drive/aimless heave.

Watch Chris Gayle play a pull shot and the power comes from the body, not from the arms. The strength’s not just about producing power, it’s also about producing controlled power. He can swing within himself and still clear the nearest sea.

The moral of the story is this: for all the apparent vanity of the man, he must also spend a lot of time developing practical strength and pragmatism is a quality even non-dickheads can admire.


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  1. By commenting on this piece, does one automatically become one of the biggest dickheads on the planet?

  2. Yep, baseball has know for years that it’s all about fast, coordinated force from the hips, back and shoulders. That’s a combination of things that are way more than muscle size. Gayle is really good at ALL the things. All of them.

    That’s the scientific answer.

  3. The shortest format – especially the domestic version – does not appeal to me as a viewer. But crunching numbers based on near equal strength of IPL teams makes it an ideal testing ground for the more serious work about test match contributions. It is easier for a player who contributes with both bat and ball to top overall contributions. Gayle tops IPL2012 player contributions solely on batting.

  4. I think your article misses the point(s):

    Isn’t he the coolest player in the IPL? Doesn’t he look really good in red?

    1. He’s definitely not cool. He thinks he’s cool and, as everyone knows, that is the most uncool thing it is possible to do. More uncool even than joining the Young Conservatives, that’s how uncool it is.

    2. The Fonz clearly thought he was cool. But crucially he also knew that he thought he was cool. Knowing the rules of cool as he did, this must have meant that he thought he was uncool, which naturally would make him cool.

      Happy days.

  5. “When you hit a cricket ball, you do so using a whole host of muscles.”

    You talking to me?


    When I hit a cricket ball, it is more like a leathery, stringy thing vaguely making contact with a stick of wood suspended in some jelly-like substances.

    In short, it stays hit. It just doesn’t travel very far.

    1. “When he hits it, it stays hit.”

      Surely one of the most hated cliches in the Big Book of Commentators’ Cliches.

      Preface by Mark Nicholas.

    2. It’s the alternative that troubles me. He hit the ball, but now it no longer has been hit. Excepting some sort of time travel, this eats at the heart of any understanding we can have of meaning, in that the original phrase is always true purely by virtue of the meaning of the words used. Although to be fair, Mark Nicholas in general eats at the heart of any understanding we can have of meaning.

  6. On an unrelated note, do the IPL commentators watch the game on a TV? After a day of procrastination “working at home”, I have lost count of the amount of times a player has belted it straight at deep cover only for the commentator to yell out “AND HE HAS HAMMERED THAT….away for a single”.

    1. Quite possibly. We’ve heard lofted straight shots met with an excited: “Is there a long-on?” before now.

  7. He murders non-bowlers. I’d prefer that when you write about IPL, you sound more like Ravi Shastri. I’d go with superlatives like “Chris Gayle can hit the ball farther with his half-erect penis than you can with a cricket bat”.

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