Ken Borland
Sports Journalist
3 minute read
5 Nov 2014
5:50 pm

Partnerships key, says master blaster Gayle

Ken Borland

Chris Gayle and Jean Symes each have their own way of going about things but both batsmen agreed that it was their partnership that was the key factor in the Highveld Lions opening their RamSlam T20 Challenge campaign with a victory over the defending champions, the Dolphins, in the triple-header at the Wanderers last weekend.

FILE PICTURE: Chris Gayle. Picture: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

While everyone sympathises with bowlers in the shortest version of the game, there is tremendous pressure on batsmen as well, with double-figure run-rates expected as a norm even under the pressure of a chase. Gayle, arguably the foremost T20 batsman in the world, says partnerships are the key despite his own reputation for single-handedly destroying teams.

“When you lose a couple of early wickets then there’s always even more pressure, but with Symes we were able to build a big partnership, which is very important. If you have a large partnership, then you have a good chance of winning the game,” Gayle said at the Wanderers nets on Wednesday..

“But then I got out at a crucial time, which could’ve cost us the game, and as batsmen we need to maintain our discipline as much as possible. But thanks to Symes we managed to get there in the end.”

“It was a bit different batting with a world-class batsman like Chris, he didn’t say much, just ‘keep batting mon’. We chased well though and getting a partnership going is the key. I just wanted to get him on strike and watch from the other end as he unleashed the fury,” Symes said.

The pair came together in the fourth over with the home side struggling on 36 for three, with Gayle belting 56 off 38 balls to set up victory, but it was Symes who took the Lions home with a beautifully-paced 58 not out off 50 balls.

“It’s nice to come in earlier and have more time to construct an innings, it’s not that easy just coming in and swinging. I’m not really that sort of player, I like more time. For me cricket is about playing decent shots and getting rewarded for them,” Symes said.

The Lions, who have made a strong start to the season with just three defeats in nine matches, next play the Chevrolet Warriors on Friday, with the struggling Eastern Cape side suffering a 74-run thrashing at the hands of the Knights at the Wanderers.

But before writing off the Warriors’ chances, it’s important to note that the match will be played in East London, where conditions are far removed from what the Lions are used to up on the Highveld.

“The type of decks you get on the coast, especially in East London or Port Elizabeth, suit the Warriors better, they know the right lengths and areas to bowl on those pitches,” Symes pointed out.

The fans at Buffalo Park will no doubt be looking forward to the match as they get the chance to experience the magic and charm of Chris Gayle first-hand.

The laid-back Jamaican knows his job is not only to win matches for the Lions, who have been very welcoming, but also to entertain.

“They are like family now and I have picked up a few dance moves from them, it’s a very jovial bunch. I was actually fined for my performance after the first game (Gayle also took four wickets) and was the first one to drink a beer in the fines meeting.

“I’m hungry to perform for the franchise, to take the team to the Champions League and make the fans happy. They have given me a fantastic reception. They come to be entertained and I’m very sad when that does not happen. I want to give back to them as much as possible,” Gayle said.