The fact that Gayle played out 55 dot balls before reaching his century will, more often than not, cost his team. Jason Roy, by comparison, faced 18 dot balls in making his century.
There are huge issues inherent in Gayle’s approach. If he fails having eaten up a dozen or so overs at the start of the innings, he puts his side at a significant disadvantage in having wasted Powerplay opportunities. Here he didn’t hit a boundary until the 15th over of the innings. By the time he was out, he had faced 65 dot balls; the same number of deliveries Roy needed for his hundred. And even if he does come through that tough start, can anyone’s acceleration justify the risk of failure or the difficulty in running between the wickets?
It was noticeable, too, that while Liam Plunkett conceded four sixes in 14 balls against Gayle and Moeen five from 34 balls, Chris Woakes didn’t concede more than a single from any of the 15 balls he bowled at him. “I knew which bowlers to target,” he said afterwards. “I thought the guys utilised the new ball very well.”
The lesson? The best bowlers – and Woakes is clearly England’s best ODI bowler – might be able to keep him subdued at this stage of his career. He can pulverise anything less than that. This was an innings that exposed weaknesses within the England attack. But it was, remember, his first ODI century against a team who will be at the 2019 World Cup since 2013.
It would be simplistic to blame Gayle for this result. For one thing England’s batsmen deserve credit for their highest successful ODI chase and for another his colleagues dropped at least six chances. On another day, he could have won the Man of the Match award. He played, for sure, an outrageous, incredible and entertaining innings. But it wasn’t a match-winning innings and, in a team sport, that’s what it’s all about.