By Ajeyo Basu
Book: Six Machine; Author: Chris Gayle; Pulisher: Penguin Viking; Price: Rs 599; Pages: 275
"I'm weird, I'm a weirdo. You think you know me? You don't know me." Chris Gayle begins his autobiography 'Six Machine' in typically in-your-face style, just like his explosive batting.
The swashbuckling West Indies opener gives a comprehensive account of his colourful life, right from an impoverished childhood to becoming one of the most destructive batsmen in world cricket.
The tall, muscular left-hander, who has gifted some of the most unforgettable moments in Twenty20 cricket to followers of the game all around the world, offers rare glimpses into his life and career in the book.
The self-styled 'world boss' and 'six machine' laces his narrative with grandiose, self-important hyperbole and quotable quotes in his native colloquial Jamaican dialect. He starts by telling the readers that he is a wierdo and takes them on the journey of a shy, skinny cricket obsessed kid, growing up in a tin-roofed shack in Kingston who goes on to become one of the game's most exciting players, travelling the globe as a gun for hire for various franchises around the world.
Gayle has equated himself to football superstars Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Cristiano Ronaldo. He has created a host of records, including being one of only four men to have scored two Test triple centuries and being the first batsman to smash a ton in each of the three formats.
But Gayle insists that he does not chase records, asserting that his in-born ability and confidence somehow manage to achieve such milestones naturally.
"If Zlatan were a cricketer, it's the sort of thing he would be trying. Except the whole point about this sort of crazy deeds is that there's no trying involved -- it just comes naturally. It's your personality coming through in what you do. I don't hunt these records. It might work for other people, but it would never work for me," Gayle writes.
Completely unapologetic about his lifestyle and his brash attitude, Gayle goes on to justify and explain some of the controversies he has been involved in. He also repeatedly emphasises his pride in his humble origins from the town of Rollington in Jamaica.
"I party harder than any other cricketer; yet I'm strong and mighty when the pretenders have retired. I speak English to the world and 'patwah' with my friends, the kid from the bad part of town who made it good."
Perhaps the most interesting bit for Indian readers will be Gayle's account of his experiences in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and his description of Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) owner Vijay Mallya's opulent mansion in Goa.
Expressing no holds barred admiration for Mallya's extravagent style, Gayle goes on to narrate his five-day experience. From riding a three-wheeled Harley-Davidson to personal theatre and elephant rides, the 'world boss' admitted to being blown away by the style of Mallya whom he termed as 'universe boss'.
The 36-year-old also admits that he was star-struck by Bollywood actors and Kolkata Knight Riders co-owners Shah Rukh Khan and Juhi Chawla, apart from Mallya.
His tryst with India started with being intimidated at the large crowds and thunderous noise in massive stadia which were a world apart from the tranquil fields of Jamaica and gradually changed to being the hero of thousands of cheering RCB fans at Bengaluru's M. Chinnaswamy Stadium.
The IPL, Gayle confirms, has changed world cricket forever but has also taken the sting out of some of the fiercest rivalries with former foes wearing the same jersey and sharing the same dressing room.
Gayle also describes in detail his 175 not out in the massive 130-run win over Pune Warriors in the 2013 edition of the IPL. It was the highest ever individual score in T20 cricket and Gayle has claimed that he could have even scored a double century if he had got more of the strike.
The only batsman to hit the first ball of a Test match for a six, Gayle also offers an apology in his trademark bombastic style to people whose cars have been damaged by his sixes.
Apart from his exploits in the shortest format of the game, Gayle also talks about his achievements in Test cricket.
He recalls with great pride his 317 against South Africa in 2005 and 333 against Sri Lanka in 2010. Gayle admits that he took great pleasure in tormenting the South Africans, specially his rivalry with pacer Andre Nel. He nominated his feat against the Lankans in Galle as the more memorable of the two triple tons because it came less than a month after he was unceremoniously stripped of the captaincy.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)