Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Taken for a spin with DJ Bravo and 'Dada' Gayle. The interaction in a car came to mind as the two behemoths of T20 cricket walked off the field arm in arm for one final time in Abu Dhabi
The interaction in a car came to mind as the two behemoths of T20 cricket walked off the field arm in arm for one final time in Abu Dhabi
Dwayne Bravo does most of the talking. Nearly all of it in fact. It's directed towards the man on the front passenger seat, Chris Gayle, who Bravo keeps referring to as “Dada“. Apart from turning around a little with an occasional monosyllabic query, Dada (used in Jamaica for someone elder to you and respected) just sits nodding.
It's the Indian summer of 2018 and the IPL season is on the cusp of reaching the business end. Bravo and Gayle are in Pune for their respective franchises. But on this Saturday night, they're en route to see former West Indian teammate turned reggae star Omari Banks perform in the city as part of his India tour. The two cricketing superstars are the VIPs for the event, and the crawling weekend traffic in Pune gives the two a rare chance for a catch-up.
The interaction came to mind as the two behemoths of T20 cricket, not to forget two of the most recognizable faces of their generation, walked off the field arm in arm for one final time in Abu Dhabi on Saturday (November 6). For in that car there were no airs and graces – it wasn't about the Universe Boss and the Champion posturing. Rather it was just Dwayne and his Dadahaving a very one-sided chat about all things franchise cricket, a domain in which they had spent their careers pioneering a new era.
Their conversation started with a brief exchange in jest about who'd get the better of the other in the Chennai Super Kings v Kings XI Punjab match the following night. That is before Bravo began giving Gayle a rapid crash-course on the business model and various owners of the teams in the Canada-based Global T20. He then turned his attention to the T10 League and amazingly seemed to know in detail about how a Bollywood star's brother had stakes in one of the teams.
Then he started updating Gayle about his movements for the following few months, which included visits to leagues in at least three more countries. Bravo continued to give a lowdown on all the other potential leagues that could sprout up and his opinion on how it would eventually shape cricket economics. Gayle kept nodding in agreement, at most raising an eyebrow every time he heard something that surprised him.
This wasn't a conversation between two cricketers. If anything, it sounded instead like a business meeting of sorts between two self-made cricketing entrepreneurs seeking out further prospects on a journey that they'd paved for themselves. It was a unique path that would eventually create options for hundreds of cricketers around the world to break free and take control of their own respective careers. As expected, both Gayle and Bravo were derided for it at the start. They'd gone against the system after all.
It was ironic then that the two men who were brandished as being cricket's ultimate mercenaries and rebels with only their own interests in mind, would walk off the field together for the last time in international cricket in a World Cup setting with the Australian team providing a guard of honour.
For what those 40 minutes in Pune traffic revealed was that these two weren't simply very, very good at this T20 business; they were also on top of it more than anyone else in the world. Two very smart operators who identified their worth and decided to go against the grain to make the most of it. They gave the power back to the players in some ways.
Cricket's complete transformation to being a professional sport is considered a significant moment in its history. The West Indian duo's move to bring the independent contractor back into vogue is equally monumental. There might have been a few others before them to have taken that route. But it came down to Bravo and Gayle to completely legitimise it.
Another aspect of their tete-a-tete in the car was just how aware both were of their own value on and off the field. Understandably so too. That has always been the case with them, even from long before the advent of their T20 superstardom. They'd both made significant impacts in Test and ODI cricket before T20 leagues started sprouting around the world.
Gayle had already established quite a reputation at the top of the order in both formats. He had 15 centuries in 50-over cricket and a triple-hundred against South Africa in Tests. Bravo, meanwhile, had a Test century in Hobart and six-wicket hauls with his fast medium in England and Australia. Alongside the likes of Marlon Samuels and Ramnaresh Sarwan, Gayle and Bravo were already counted among the post-Brian Lara generation of marquee West Indian players. And they remained so right until the very end at Abu Dhabi, nearly two decades after playing together for the first time.
Those close to Bravo and Gayle will tell you that what has stayed the same are their unique personalities, along with an immense level of mutual respect
Throughout it all, they never fully turned their backs on the West Indies. Apart from winning two T20 WC titles together, they made it a point to return to the fold every time a world event was around the corner. Both also had their time captaining the side even if Bravo's reign came to an unceremonious end in India during the tumultuous tour of 2014.
Those close to Bravo and Gayle will tell you that what's also stayed the same are their unique personalities, along with an immense level of mutual respect. It certainly came through that evening in Pune with Bravo, four years junior to Gayle, sounding every bit the earnest younger sibling making sure his Dadawas fully versed with the goings-on in world cricket.
This was a different Gayle to the one we've seen on camera, and the one that shone through in his final World Cup appearance against Australia. The Universe Boss who didn't bother too much about tugging on a raw nerve with David Warner, by sticking his hand in the left-hander's pocket or jumping on a not-very-amused Mitchell Marsh's back after dismissing him.
In his private space, Gayle comes across generally almost in a contemplative state, like he did on the front seat back then, soaking in every word of Bravo's discourse. Jamaican teammates from his early days in the regional team still recall a young Gayle trying his best to be the centre of attention, cracking jokes, even if at times only he found them funny, but someone who'd go out of his way to help anyone in need.
It's no surprise then that while Gayle does have his detractors, for good reason in some circles, there aren't many who have a bad word to say about Bravo.
For with the Trinidadian all-rounder, what you see is what you get. Despite his reputation as being the life of a party, he isn't one to go over the top with anything he does. It's instead his infectious energy that has made him among the most popular players of his generation, especially outside the Caribbean.
There's that humility in him too. A few days post the Omari Banks show in Pune, he was hanging out at the Wankhede Stadium and requesting some genuine opinion about the merits of his latest song. And despite Saturday's match being officially his final hurrah in West Indian colours, he didn't seem to mind Gayle kind of overshadowing his thunder with his typically eccentric antics. The Universe Boss, though, did break character very briefly when the Spider Cam got very close to him at one point while he was fielding at short third man. You could hear him go, “Dwayne Bravo… Dwayne Bravo..DJ Bravo… ” into it. That mutual respect again.
The end might not have come in the way Gayle and Bravo would have hoped for. Gayle for one still hopes for a grand farewell in front of his home fans at the Sabina Park. But you know they aren't going away for good any time soon even if their final World Cup show may have finished in a whimper.
Dwayne and his Dada still have a few more worlds to conquer. And you know they will.