I am not a ‘mercenary’, says Chris Gayle

Image courtesy of: Zimbio

“These same mercenaries are the ones who are representing all the countries in the World T20s who everyone will be supporting so why use that word?””

Flamboyant West Indies opener Chris Gayle has announced that he is not a “mercenary” and feels hurt when people call him that “distasteful and unwarranted” term.

The term “mercenary” refers to cricketers who make a living off Twenty20 cricket, whether it be international tournaments or domestic competitions like the Indian Premier League (IPL) or Big Bash League (BBL).

“I’ve had that said about me in the past and it’s hurtful, by my own fans in the Caribbean and some by others,” Gayle said. “But they need to know that it’s always a cricketer’s dream to wear his international colours. That term ‘mercenary’ will hurt cricket.

“These same mercenaries are the ones who are representing all the countries in the World T20s who everyone will be supporting so why use that word?”

Gayle added that cricketers, like everyone else, have “bills to pay” and sometimes they have to lean towards the more lucrative side of the game, which just so happens to be Twenty20 cricket.

“I had bills to pay and all cricketers have the same,” he said. “We still do.

“T20 is a good way of earning extra income to secure your future and your family’s. Many people don’t get that. I’m more comfortable financial-wise now and I’m looking to play West Indies cricket for a few more years.

“All I wanted to do was come back and play for the West Indies. When I wasn’t in the team, I had to play T20s to pay the bills and look at what happened in 2012. We won the World T20 and so many players like myself, [Dwayne] Bravo and Sunil Narine gained from our IPL experiences. We have more West Indies players in the IPL now and it’s great for [Krishmar] Santokie and Jason Holder to get this experience. And make a living.”

Legendary West Indies batsman Desmond Haynes supported Gayle’s view, and said: “You know how hard it was for players like us back in the day to make money off cricket? We had to travel the world on tour and play away from our family for so long.

“Relationships, marriages and parenthood struggled. Some of us couldn’t see our newborns for a year. But we had to do it. Now, some players can make what we did in a lifetime in just one or two T20 tournaments.”

Gayle also insisted that he remains committed to representing the West Indies in Test cricket before he once again offered some kind words to his good friend Kevin Pietersen, who had his central contract terminated by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after England’s disastrous tour of Australia.

“You look at someone like KP,” Gayle said. “He could have made money for years now playing T20s but he stuck with England. It’s national pride. Now, maybe he will be going out there and be playing more T20s and making big money but no one believes us when players like us say we always want to play for our country first and foremost.

“The game has changed and there’s a lot of cricket being played so T20s do clash with tours and such but we can iron and fix this out. Maybe it’s all about proper T20 windows, who knows? But I’m sure if England called KP up now he’d jump at the chance to play for his country. That’s across the board for players like us. We always would.”

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