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Chris Gayle opts out of CPL 2020

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Chris Gayle has decided not to be a part of the 8th edition of the Caribbean Premier League, citing personal reasons for the same. His announcement have come a day before the draft for the tournament begins, which would be later today.

According to ESPNCricinfo, Gayle communicated  his decision on Monday to St Lucia Zouks, the franchise he was going to play for in this CPL, saying he would not be available to play due to personal reasons. His decision was confirmed by the Zouks franchise. It is understood that in his email, Gayle stated that due to the lockdown, he has not been able to meet his family, his young child who are in St Kitts while he has been in Jamaica. Gayle said he needed a break and wanted to spend time with his young family.

Gayle signed up with the Zouks in April after an acrimonious fallout with Jamaica Tallawahs, where he had returned in 2019 for a second stint. The Zouks would have been the third team Gayle would represent in the CPL after two stints with Tallawahs (2013-16 and 2019) and a two-year stay with St Kitts and Nevis (2017-18).

Although he has turned 40, Gayle has stated that he has no intentions of retiring from the sport, insisting that he wants to play until he is 45. Despite boasting the record of most runs in T20s, Gayle has struggled with consistency over the last few years. In the previous edition of the CPL, he aggregated 243 runs in 10 matches for Jamaica Tallawahs, including a hundred. But the Tallawahs, along with the Zouks, failed to make the play-off stage. Gayle has also not featured for West Indies since the 2019 World Cup.

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Gayle’s abrupt decision is understood to have disrupted Zouks’ plans for the players’ draft, which will be conducted virtually for the first time due to the travel restrictions imposed by countries to arrest the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Zouks signed up Gayle as one of the marquee players outside the draft in the US $130,000 – 160,000 price bracket. In his absence, the franchise is likely to get the first pick at the draft now.

It is not clear whether Gayle’s decision was influenced by the pay cut proposed by the CPL in the wake of the pandemic. In an update he sent recently to all stakeholders, the CPL operations manager Michael Hall said top-earning players would be asked to take a pay cut of up to 30% compared to the 2019 contract. In Gayle’s case, he would have received about $112,000 after the 30% proposed cut from the Zouks.
It is understood that players and staff from all the six franchises have accepted the pay cuts although the CPL has not sent out any details.

“We understand that Chris has decided to not take part in CPL personal reasons. We wish Chris all the best for the rest of 2020 and hope to see him back at CPL in 2021,” a CPL spokesperson, upon being asked about Gayle’s decision, said.

The 2020 CPL is slated to take place entirely in the island of Trinidad and Tobago, subject to the clearance of the local government.