ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Data hints at Gayle’s Aussie kryptonite
Quicks planning bouncer barrage in crucial World Cup clash at Trent Bridge as Australia ponder how to stop Chris Gayle
Louis Cameron in Nottingham
4 June 2019, 09:00 PM AEST
Pat Cummins doesn't quite remember Chris Gayle's nickname, but the Australians will leave no stone unturned in trying to uncover his weaknesses ahead Thursday's World Cup clash against West Indies at Trent Bridge.
And their research may reveal that Gayle's kryptonite is already among them.
Despite being a few months short of his 40th birthday, Gayle's pre-tournament declaration to cricket.com.au that he remains world cricket's most feared batsman still has an element of truth to it.
The left-hander incinerated the world’s best one-day side earlier this year in pumping 424 runs at an average of 106 in the Windies' home series against England, before he was a standout in the recent Indian Premier League.
"It is always a great challenge playing against 'Mr Worldwide', or whatever he calls himself," said Cummins, before recalling that it is in fact 'Universe Boss' that is Gayle's official self-appointed title.
"He is obviously a class act and keeps hitting sixes whenever he plays.
"I've played against him quite a bit in T20 but never an ODI against him. Trent Bridge is a pretty small ground, so I am sure it is going to be one of the more high-scoring (games)."
A statistical analysis of how Gayle fares against the current crop of Australian one-day bowlers provides some telling insights.
Mitchell Starc, the only bowler in the World Cup squad to have played against Gayle in an ODI, dismissed him in a 2013 series, where he picked up 11 wickets in three games against the Windies.
But, when returns from T20 matches are considered, it's another left-arm quick who is shown to be something of a Gayle conqueror.
Jason Behrendorff, who missed selection in Australia's first-up seven-wicket win over Afghanistan, has dismissed Gayle in all three games he's played against him.
The pair's first encounter, in the second edition of the KFC Big Bash when Gayle was playing for the Sydney Thunder, saw the opener edge one to first slip off the left-arm quick – who finished with 2-16 from four overs – after making just two off nine balls.
The Perth Scorchers spearhead then repeated the dose three years later when Gayle was at the Melbourne Renegades; after racing to a 35-ball 41, Gayle skied a pull shot off the bowling of Behrendorff (2-14 from four) and was caught by the wicketkeeper.
And Behrendorff, in his maiden IPL stint with Mumbai Indians earlier this year, made it three from three when he removed Gayle in a high-scoring match at the Wankhede Stadium; the opener clubbed 24 from nine balls against Behrendorff before the Western Australian claimed his scalp, and finished with 1-35 from four.
Behrendorff's team went on to win all three of those matches.
The case for the Western Australian's inclusion is strengthened when Gayle's overall ODI numbers against left-arm fast bowlers are considered. Against right-arm quicks, Gayle averages nearly 40, a figure that drops to 23 against left-armers. Gayle also scores significantly slower against left-arm pace in ODIs; his strike-rate sits at 107 against right-armers, compared to 76 against lefties.
Of course, Australia's decision on the make-up of their bowling attack won't solely revolve around one player. Another key factor could be that four of the Windies' top five that helped them to a comprehensive win over Pakistan on Friday were left-handers.
Australia assistant coach Ricky Ponting flagged after a practice game against the two-time World Cup champions last month that off-spinner Nathan Lyon, who thrives against lefties, could come into contention for that reason.
"There's a great match up for Nathan Lyon straightaway," Ponting said when asked about Australia playing Lyon and leg-spinner Adam Zampa in the same XI.
"If you dig into the stats, right-arm off-spinners against a lot of these West Indian batsmen have really good records. You're always looking for the right match-ups or an area that you can find an advantage over an opposition team."
Australia are well-versed in how difficult it can be to contain big-hitters at the Nottingham venue set to host Thursday's match, having conceded a world record 6-481 against England there last year.
The Windies successfully bombarded Pakistan with short balls in their win there on Friday, and both Jason Holder and Andre Russell have vowed to maintain their aggression against the Aussies.
With the ground renowned for its short straight boundaries, Cummins suggested his side won't necessarily be inclined to pitch the ball up either.
"With our pace and bounce, I feel like that's a really good wicket-taking ball or a dot ball," Australia's vice-captain said of the bouncer.
"It is going to be a risk if a batter is trying to play that (aggressively) every time.
"I think it is a weapon you have got to have as a fast bowler trying to survive here."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE