Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce hails IPL star Chris Gayle
With barrels for wickets and sticks as bats, sprint icon Fraser-Pryce remembers playing cricket in the streets of Jamaica growing up.
Explosive power and graceful poise.
Descriptions that could apply equally to legendary Jamaican cricketer Chris Gayle effortlessly clearing the ropes or sprint queen Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce making a dash for the finish line.
The two-time Olympic gold medallist admits she’s a fan of the former West Indies cricket captain, much like the rest of Jamaica and millions around the globe.
“Chris Gayle is massive in Jamaica. Mr three, three, three,” Fraser-Pryce told the Olympic Channel referring to Gayle's jersey number. “Everybody knows Chris Gayle, he is huge.”
Both Fraser-Pryce and Gayle are global superstars in their respective fields, but back in their home country, they are larger-than-life figures.
The adulation, Fraser-Pryce reckons, is born out of the unwavering passion for anything sporty in the island nation.
“We love our sports and we celebrate our sports stars in Jamaica. You would think that we were the only teams in the world. I think that's one thing we appreciate about our fans here in Jamaica,” the nine-time world champion stated.
Fraser-Pryce, however, admitted that all the fanfare does create a substantial pressure to win, not just perform.
“Yeah, they are very hard with us sometimes. But I think that's normal. They just want us to win all the time. And that's fine. We want to win as well,” the ace sprinter said.
The burden has, however, rarely slowed Fraser-Pryce or Chris Gayle down.
With a cabinet full of international titles, including six Olympic medals and 11 medals - nine golds and two silvers - at the World Athletics Championships, Fraser-Pryce is arguably the greatest women’s sprinter in the world.
Gayle, meanwhile, is regarded as one of the most fearsome batsmen in limited-overs cricket, holding a slew of records. He has also helped West Indies win two T20 World Cups - in 2012 and 2016 - turning the clock back to West Indies cricket’s glory days.
Chris Gayle has also plundered runs in the Indian Premier League for Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab.
The 40-year-old Gayle is set to take part in his third season with KXIP in IPL 2020, which kicks off on Saturday.
Fraser-Pryce growing up with street cricket
Busy with her athletics career, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce admits she gets little time to follow cricket closely and sit for matches. But growing up, it used to be one of her favourites.
“I used to play cricket when I was younger with my friends on the streets. We used to take the top off the barrel (to use it as wickets) and then use a stick and hold it as a bat,” she recalls.
“It was one of my favourite sports. Back in those days, everyone would be talking about cricket and Brian Lara,” she reminisced.
Now it's Chris Gayle calling the shots for Jamaica at the crease - and Fraser-Pryce taking charge on the track.