Chris Gayle’s autobiography is a no-holds-barred take on his colourful life, and has the flamboyant cricketer reminiscing about his boyhood days, tracing his cricket journey and spilling secrets he’s waited a long time to share
Interestingly, here is an author who unabashedly admits he does not read books and cannot think of any author he particularly likes to read. In fact, he can only recall one book that he has read, 50 Shades of Grey which the cavalier Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle says he enjoyed very much. Now himself an author, the flamboyant Gayle is out with an autobiography Six Machine, which true to his style is a no-holds-barred take on his colourful life. Gayle says, “I hope it can reach far and wide, through cricket and beyond, for there are stories to tell and secrets I’ve waited a long time to share. Being me is fun. I don’t believe in being boring. And Six Machine is me, in every way.”
Starting out as a shy, skinny kid from a tin-roofed shack in the back streets of Kingston, he became one of the most well-known stars in the cricketing world. Gayle writes of more than just about how he became a sporting genius making Six Machine a compelling good read as it records how he overcame the struggle of a not-so-privileged life of battling prejudices, and still emerged unscathed, with a broad smile on his face.
Writing the book at this point of time, when he is at the peak of his game, says Gayle, was the best time to do this. In his words, “Honestly, it’s a good idea to write a book while you are still playing the game, and then one later after you have finished your active playing career. It’s nice to be able to stop, and take stock, looking back on how far you have come. Penguin approached me to do the book, and I said to myself — why not? The only problem was how to do it, but then they came to Jaimaica to talk to me and in a week I gave them my story. Then they got Tom Fordyce, BBC’s Chief Sports Writer to collaborate with me to write the book. Tom came to my house in Jamaica, and we spent a couple of hours in the mornings sitting and talking in the balcony. I took him to all the places I grew up in, got him to meet my close friends, and here we are. It was all good fun.”
The book is full of reminiscent memories, mulling over his boyhood days when he and his friends jumped over neighbours’ fences to eagerly looking forward to Christmas because, “you’re going to get a good meal”.
Gayle says the book is all honest telling, about his days at the Lucas Cricket Club in Kingston, where Caribbean legends such as George Hadley and Frank Worrell were shaped. Gayle also talks of his exploits off the field — about his first time, when he took girls back to the room and events like his escapades in Sri Lanka during the World T20 in 2012, when the police were at his door. “West Indies went on to win the Cup! Revisiting those years for the book makes me smile,” says Gayle and adds — “I was a cheeky bad boy.”
Talking big is a Gayle thing, so the book is full of epithets like “the Tsar of T20, the boss of the boundary boards”, “Nine mighty sixes, five thrash-dash fours, a hundred off just 50 balls.” But there are personal stories when he says, he is “feeling sad” and talks of his visit to the 11-year-old girl from Bengaluru who got a broken nose from a sixer he hit. Gayle not only visited but also got a premier seat for her at the next game. He also truthfully addresses the “Don’t Blush Baby” incident in Australia with Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin.
Gayle says while he did not show the draft of his book to any of his family or friends, he did share a copy of the book with his cricket buddies Virat Kohli, Yuvraj and Kumar Sangakkara. He adds, “I did not ask anyone to go through my draft because there is nothing bad about it, I was not writing it for sensationalism. I don’t need that kind of fame from this book. I don’t have any enemies that I am looking to get even with through my writing, it is not that kind of a book. It has all facts about my life, word for word. Even my family didn’t read the book before it was published. Actually they still haven’t read the book because I haven’t given it to them as yet. I will do that now. My girlfriend Natasha (with whom he recently had a baby girl) however has gone through it, and she said it was a fantastic read.”
There is definitely another book still left in him, says the cricketer. “I am still playing. I have so much to tell. My next book will be even more open and vulgar.” We all know no one hits a six like Gayle, who has to his name two triple 100s in Tests, one double 100 in ODIs, two 100s in T20s, now it is to be seen if Gayle’s book goes the same way as the ball he hits!