In their early 20s, a cricketer is brimming with energy and is ready to deliver day in and day out. After a player crosses 30, the skills, steadfastly, see a downward trend. Though the zeal and vigour for performing remain intact, the body and the mind seem less co-operative to the elasticities and the dynamics of the sport.
Both Chris Gayle and Shane Watson have been stalwarts for their respective teams and are currently representing the Royal Challengers Bangalore team in the Indian Premier League. They have proved to be handy in their respective departments. And in their prime, they hardly missed out on opportunities for making their rivals pay for any blemish on the field.
However, in the current season of the prestigious Indian domestic extravaganza, they have merely been pale shadows of their stupendous selves. While they have sparked brilliance in patches, they have hardly been able to replicate their old form in the field of play.
Downhill Trend For Watson
Shane Watson was snapped up by the Challengers for 9.5 crore during the auction of the ninth edition of the IPL in 2016. He was the biggest buy in the erstwhile season of the T20 league. With 179 runs at an average of 13.76 and 20 wickets at an economy of 8.5, he couldn’t quite hit top gear during the course of the tournament.
In the current edition, Watson has been floating in the batting order – from opening the innings to the number six slot. After struggling to a couple of twenties, he has been pushed down the order. With the ball, the economy is greater than 10 with only two wickets to show for his efforts.
Being an all-rounder, Watson adds value to the team and with the experience he possesses, he is undoubtedly an indispensable component of a team. But at the age of 35, he isn’t the same as he used to be a couple of years ago.
Stop-Start Journey for Gayle
Chris Gayle aka the Universal Boss has redefined the shortest format of the game with his ferocious and extravagant stroke-play. He has made the IPL his own since the inaugural season, clearing the ropes and hitting runs at will.
His stint with the Royal Challengers Bangalore has been no less than a fairytale as he has wreaked havoc against every team. However, the journey has gone through hiccups since last year as Gayle was found wanting at the top of the batting order with a spree of low scores.
The inevitable happened when the hulking Jamaican was dropped from the team under the leadership of Virat Kohli in the last season and the RCB skipper minced no words in revealing the decision to sit-out Gayle. It was only in the final against the Sunrisers Hyderabad when Gayle gave a glimpse of his big-hitting prowess.
Even in the current season, though Gayle played a blinder against the Gujarat Lions, he has struggled against quality bowling attacks. At the age of 37, the consistency level has diminished and with age not on his side, the road ahead for Gayle won’t be a walk in the park.
Road Ahead for RCB
Gayle and Watson are proven match-winners, but it’s high time that RCB look for players who can fill in their slots, if not replace them. The pitch at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore is traditionally a belter of a track, but this time round, the pitch has slowed down by a fair margin and both Watson and Gayle have struggled to find their feet.
And to add to that, Shane Watson retired after the 2016 World T20 in India and Chris Gayle has been in and out of the West Indies team. It’s difficult for them to be on top of their game given that they haven’t been in the thick of things over the last year or so.
With two wins in six matches, RCB is languishing at the bottom of the table. They need something inspiring to get themselves moving upwards in the league table. Perhaps getting fresh blood into the team could just do the trick.
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