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Legends Month: The best of Chris Gayle

As part of Legends Month on Cricket Network, look back on one of Chris Gayle's greatest performances

It's not often a player on the losing side of a 2-0 scoreline is named player of the series, but Chris Gayle is one such individual who can lay claim to that remarkable feat.

Gayle, for all his controversial characteristics, is one really, really good batsman.

Peerless in cricket’s shortest format, it's easy to forget the imposing opening batsman also played 103 Tests, posted 15 centuries including a personal best of 333, and a nightclub in Jamaica named after that colossal innings.

So it is perhaps unsurprising that on the West Indies' tour of Australia in 2009-10 where the visitors, under his command as captain, suffered two losses and a draw in three Tests, Gayle produced two innings of pure class – one traditional, the other a tad more contemporary – to steal the spotlight and be judged the best player on either side of the campaign.

Gayle scored contrasting centuries against Australia in 2009 // Getty
Gayle scored contrasting centuries against Australia in 2009 // Getty

After they were wiped off the park in the first Test at the Gabba to the tune of an innings and 65 runs, the West Indies, led by their skipper, rebounded with a gritty draw in Adelaide.

The lacklustre batting performances in Brisbane (out for 228 and 187) were a distant memory by the time the tourists posted 451 in the first innings at Adelaide Oval and claimed a 12-run advantage after both sides had batted, but the match was very much in the balance as Gayle walked out to the middle for a second time in the match.

What followed was nearly seven-and-a-half hours at the crease as he posted an unbeaten 165 from 285 balls to guide his side to 317 and set Australia a tantalising target of 330 on the final day, the hosts abandoning the chase after they were reduced to 5-139.

Gayle's innings featured 16 fours and one obligatory six and was, in almost every measure, the opposite of how he will be remembered when his playing days finally come to an end.

Gayle launches a bomb at the WACA // Getty
Gayle launches a bomb at the WACA // Getty

When that happens, he’ll be known as one of the most destructive batsman ever to wield the willow, a six-hitter like no other, and a one-man white-ball bulldozer who plied his trade all over the globe.

And that's the Gayle that belted the Australians to all parts of the WACA Ground nine days later in the third Test.

Having watched five Australians carve out half-centuries without reaching triple-figures – Simon Katich was out for 99 – as part of a whopping 7-520 declared from 130.4 overs, Gayle went into T20 mode immediately.

His intentions were made clear right away when he slashed Mitchell Johnson’s first ball over gully to the third man rope, before finishing the over with a thumping cut stroke struck closer to the middle of his bat through point.

Gayle smashes 12-ball 50 in Big Bash

Johnson was taken for three more boundaries in his next over as Gayle raced to 22 from 13 balls with recently-retired Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist sitting in the WACA stands perhaps wondering whether his 57-ball century against England three years earlier might be eclipsed by the Jamaican as the fastest Test ton at the iconic venue.

When debutant Clint McKay was introduced into the attack by his captain Ricky Ponting, Gayle welcomed the Victorian to Test cricket by sending his first delivery to the cover boundary. For good measure, he sent McKay’s sixth ball to the rope too.

As his half-century approached it was time for Gayle to take to the skies. Doug Bollinger had been bustling in for six overs and was the only bowler yet to feel Gayle’s wrath, but that changed when the opener nonchalantly clipped the left-armer on to the mid-wicket grass bank to bring up his 50 from 34 balls.

And Gayle's bombing did not stop with Bollinger.

Ricky Ponting's insight into Chris Gayle

With pace not working, Ponting turned to the off-spin of Nathan Hauritz, whose second and third balls were dumped straight down the ground for consecutive sixes.

McKay continued and was pumped for Gayle’s fourth six, an on-drive that was never meant to find the carpet, but the best of his six sixes came off the off-spinner.

His fifth maximum featured a terrifying skip down the wicket to the pitch of the ball and a full-blooded swing of the bat with everything he had behind it that resulted in the ball sailing on to the roof of the Lillee Marsh Stand.

His sixth and final six was another free swing of the bat dispatching Hauritz over long-on to reach his century from just 70 balls, a milestone he celebrated by removing his helmet, dropping his to his knees, raising his arms and bowing to his applauding teammates in the away side's dressing room.

Gayle waits as the ball is retrieved from the roof of the grandstand // Getty
Gayle waits as the ball is retrieved from the roof of the grandstand // Getty

Sadly, the Gayle show ended two balls later when he shovelled Bollinger to Shane Watson at point, much to the disappointment to those in attendance and the millions watching around the world.

Once the smoke cleared from Gayle’s fireworks, the Windies were bowled out for 312, and despite dismissing the hosts for 150 in their second innings, they fell 35 runs short of victory.

But Gayle's whirlwind innings was enough to earn him player-of-the-match honours, matching the same award he won in Adelaide and making him the unanimous choice as the player of the series in a losing cause.