Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Six Machine - Chris Gayle

Most cricket biographies I have read have been staid accounts of their lives with a few incidents thrown in that might interest us. But none had this quality that Chris Gayle's has. It is a literary achievement I feel; if I found Raja Rao's 'Kanthapura' fascinating for its use of language, I find Chris Gayle has achieved something similar with his language. It is not some fake cricket gentleman speaking to you; it is Gayle as he is, speaking the way he does and giving it to the reader, smoking it, smoking it, as he says. I loved it.

''And don't mess with the West Indians.''

Chris starts off with a swagger that is bigger than we are used to on the cricket field. I am the best, the world boss, the one with two triple hundreds, a double hundred in one days and a hundred in T20s. You think you know me, he challenges, me the party man, the ladies man, the destroyer of bowlers, the quintessential bad man. Don't hate me because I am not what you want me to be. Don't hate me because I am not who you are. The swagger grows bigger and bigger until we get over the initial shock and nausea and then we find a method to his madness, an inspiration for all who want to make it. There are life lessons, leadership lessons, motivational lessons and so much more that I want to read it again and make some notes. One can see Chris laughing his head off but he did mention that one needs a philosophy to survive, to make it where he did, especially coming from where he did.

'Define yourself, what you want to do. Breathe and let go of the anger. You will be guided accordingly. It comes naturally. You cannot live in the darkness. You must come into the light.'
''No one gave it to me. I have come through the fight.''
''I am one of the hardest workers. Practice. Practice. Practice. Running boundary laps in pads. I'd bat for days on that concrete.''
''Never dreamt of playing cricket. Had bad dreams. If you die in your dreams, you die in your sleep.''

From the poverty of a one room house shared by five siblings and where food was tough to come by, the Jamaican, who lived right across the Lucas cricket ground, a 100 year club significantly set up to give the young black kids a chance to play, learned to cut his teeth with his friends on the cricket grounds. He speaks of more talented cricketers who could not apply themselves like his brother Michael Crew for instance and how he, Chris applied himself and kept going. He knew his strength, knew what he wanted, and went about it the way he knew best. No running, just hitting the ball for boundaries and sixes. For all the hard knocks he had, he also had the helpful souls who helped him with his cricket like Ms. Hamilton, Mac. Chris got himself into the limelight with some match winning knocks and soon played cricket at the highest level.

''You don't necessarily need a strong team to win games. If you as a captain can hold a group of players in the palm of your hand, then you have something powerful. If you treat your players as you want to be treated, if you make them feel appreciated and respected, if you communicate clearly with them, they will go and play flat out ferocious cricket.''
''Use the wisdom and ideas all around you. All for one, one for all. Teach everyone respect for the environment and for each other.''
''Don't think of the end, only the moment you are in. Don't overthink. Don't worry about failure. Talk to yourself, boost yourself, sing to yourself.'
'Clear the air, free the air and you'll get the best out of them. Know when to talk and when to fall silent'
''How are you going to bring happiness to the world today'' - Ray Jennings, RCB Coach
''My innings begins the night before. I analyse the game. I see myself dong well. See each bowler and how I will play accordingly. You put these things in your mind so you can sleep over it and cement ideas into action.''
''You are never alone.''
''Chris you don't move until di bowler releases di ball,'- Richard Austin. ''Be still and control your breathing.''
''You have enough men trying to wreck you without your own thoughts trying to tangle your feet too. Be confident within yourself whatever you are trying to do. Always. Don't hold back. You can get it. Just know you can do it.''
''When things scare you, attack it.'' - on his fear of flying.
''Don't worry about what might happen. If the ball is there, hit it. Don't worry about the miss. Don't worry about the edge. Play for glory. Play for the six.''
''You can't die in darkness. You must come into the light.''
''I've done it already. I can do it again.''
''Wisdom took me there. Wisdom from experience. When you have a run of low scores there's always one big innings coming along. The magic will return. And when it does you have to make it big. Cash the chips in. Make it count.''

What was most interesting was the way he brought out the Jamaican flavor to the book. I now feel I know the Jamaica he is talking about. The bad parts, the good parts, the cricket, the women, the drinking, the partying, the sex, the celebration and its all cool and fine. Chris lets it all hang out and dwells on all the controversies including the last one with the Aussie anchor and now that one hears his version and knows his story, one is not so judgmental anymore. In Jamaica he says, we are not so uptight about sex. Just sharing the love he says. For the many who hide their deeds well, his approach has a refreshing candor.  He brings in the racism, the poverty, the desire to be bigger and bigger and bigger, the desire to prove everyone wrong and to prove that he is the world boss. Its an amazing story of an ambitious kid who made his life, lived on his terms and continues to do so. This biography shows Chris Gayle at his honest and unrepentant best and I feel that is the way biographies have to be written. You cannot grudge him his success and I will cheer him along now I know what comes with him, behind him and have some inkling of where he wants to go.

I loved the italicised Jamaican slang in which he gives his philosophies every now and then, Stuff he has heard and imbibed, If the cricket coaching he talks about makes more sense than some voluminous coaching manuals and biographies, this smattering of philosophy he leaves us with keeps us thinking. In a tough or rough situation he says 'Just breathe and let the stress and anger go. Let the darkness out of your soul." And 'Confidence comes form hard work. Confidence enables you to flourish. Confidence enables you to relax." "I am the six machine. I am moving up. Always moving up." In a few sentences he talks of how he resets his goals, how high he wants to reach and be the world boss or even perhaps a universe boss, how he manages his men and how important it is to make them feel comfortable. He talks of the IPL, Test cricket, his big knocks, his friends and family, women, partying, his experiences in other countries, Allen Stanford, his run ins with the Board and the coaches, his house, the strip bar in his house, his first woman and almost everything in a couple of lines that say everything even when they are not. This is a direct contrast to so many biographies which say a lot without saying anything.

'Toughness comes from having to be tough. Determination to stick it out comes from doing it everyday. Motivation comes from it always being fun, always being games.''
''The determination to deliver. Being ready to endure whatever it takes to get the job done. Using the barbs to spur you on. Then you will make it, no matter what they will put in your way."
"Be hungrier. Don't be satisfied. Fill your boots and prepare to be weary."
''Sometimes when a fast bowler comes for you its like shooting a gun. Sometimes when a fast bowler comes i literally stop my breath. For those split seconds the body closes down. Everything is still. Control your breathing. Jus feel. See the target and jus feel.''
''There's a balance somewhere. Its not always easy to find and I cannot always tip toe along.''

Chris Gayle's biography reveals the man behind it slowly and its much like how he reveals himself as a batsman. It infuriates you to see that laid back, casual approach and you wonder what a little more earnestness could do for him. But he is already doing more than you or anyone else is and that is what we miss in our judgment. And he does not give a damn what you think - he will do it his way. Chris is not apologetic and lets his bat talk, his deeds talk. He wants no favours and says as much - that I don't want to be in the team because someone felt they should give me a chance. He will be there because he is the best. And then you understand him when he says he went to meet an eye doctor and fell in love with her eyes (I agree, I love ophthalmologists too, for the way they look deep into your eyes). His house and its rooms for his family and friends, his charity, his concern for the girl who got hit by his six in Bangalore and for the crowd, the house he built for his brother, the money he promised his friend Runako Morton but could not give before he died and how bad he felt for it.

''Confidence carries you through even if you are sometimes bluffing yourself and the opposition attack.''
''Confidence comes from character. Character comes from being tested and coming through.''
''I can fire it into a penny.''
''This is about life after trophies; helping your brother, your mother and father; becoming a better man than you were before...''
''Without fighting as a boy you cannot become a man.''
''My energy comes from being out there in the middle.''
"When you are not in form don't wait for someone else to fix it. Beat your way out of it. Beat your way in.''

I will return with more from the book. This is just my initial appreciation of the man, his philosophy, his stand, his ambition, his achievements and mostly his honesty which makes his writing style so endearing. Now that's the way to write a biography so you leave a part of you and where you come from with the reader and give him an idea of where you might be going. Well done Christopher Henry Gayle from Rollington and Lucas Cricket Club, Jamaica, this is as good as any. Truly, you are the world boss. But you don't need me to say it do you? For anyone who can read without judging and who can stand a bit of honesty, this book is as good as any that wins literary awards. If I was a judge I would give away the award to Chris.  The Prize for Literature - Honest Biographies. Chris could add it to his list of achievements and deservedly so.


Abhinay Renny said...

Looks like there's a lot to learn and know about the person. I can't wait to read this book, after reading your review sir :)

Harimohan said...

Yes Abhinay, it's a fascinating book. It's not easy to read because of the language, the in your face swagger, but that's its best part also. It makes you feel uncomfortable, disturbs the balance. Which means that it is good stuff. :)