'Universe Boss' Chris Gayle to retire from ODIs after World Cup

Big-hitting 39-year-old opener, who has scored 9,727 runs in 284 ODIs, is set to play his first international since last July against England on Wednesday

Chris Gayle is determined to bow out of ODI cricket on a high by helping West Indies win the World Cup in England and Wales. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Veteran West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has announced he will retire from one-day international cricket after this year's World Cup in England and Wales.

The big-hitting 39-year-old opener, who has scored 9,727 runs in 284 ODIs, is set to play his first international since last July against England on Wednesday.

The self-styled "Universe Boss" appears confident that he can bow out in style after a 20-year career built on brutal hitting at the top of the order.

"You're looking at a great man," he told ESPNcricinfo.com. "I'm the greatest player in the world.

"Of course I'm still the 'Universe Boss'. That will never change. I'll take that to the grave."

Gayle needs 677 more runs to surpass the great Brian Lara as the West Indies' all-time record ODI runscorer, a feat he will be hoping to achieve at his fifth World Cup, which starts on May 30.

The Windies begin their bid for a third World Cup title on May 31 against Pakistan.

"I'll let the youngsters have some fun and I can sit back in the party stand and watch them have some fun," said Gayle.

"Winning the World Cup would be a fairy-tale finish. The youngsters owe it to me to win. They have to do that for me and try and get me the trophy. I'll be looking to put my input in as well."

Gayle has been mainly a T20 specialist since making his last Test appearance in 2014, and most recently played in the Bangladesh Premier League earlier this month.

He will continue playing franchise cricket, with the T20 World Cup in two years' time potentially on the agenda.

"I'm in good condition. The body is feeling good and I'm pleased with that," he added.

"I've lost a bit of weight and I don't want to get too big. I'm still working on my six pack.

"I'm trying to keep up with the youngsters in the field who are like cats the way they chase the ball. I still have it in me and I'm still enjoying it."

Since making his debut in 1999, Gayle has also scored a Windies record of 23 ODI hundreds, including the first World Cup double century against Zimbabwe four years ago.

The game in Barbados on Wednesday is the first of a five-match series against World Cup favourites England.

England's preparations for the match were buoyed by a thumping 171-run warm-up win in Barbados on Sunday.

Jason Roy and Joe Root helped themselves to centuries as the tourists had too much quality to be troubled by a University of West Indies vice-chancellor's XI.

They posted 371-7 at the 3Ws Oval, Roy retiring on 110 and Root following with a lively 114, before dismissing their hosts for 200.

England's team included at least nine of the XI players expected to start the World Cup campaign, with Jos Buttler rested and Mark Wood's starring role in the St Lucia Test earning him the final seamer's slot.

Alex Hales, standing in for Buttler, failed to exert any pressure on the top six with a soft two-ball duck while Wood turned in a steady showing of 2-35.

Roy cut a contented figure at the close of play and believes England head into Wednesday's match at the Kensington Oval in good order despite this being their only competitive workout.

"It was good fun, a perfect start from a personal level and as a team," he said.

"We got together a huge total and 'Rooty' got some balls in the middle as well. It was a great bowling effort and a pretty convincing win so it's happy days.

"With the volume of practice we get in the nets this should be more than enough [preparation]. That's just the way it is and you have to suck it up and get on with it.

"Nets are nets and you can strike it nicely but as soon as you get out in the big bad world it's a different story. I feel I'm hitting the ball well but Wednesday is another day, so it's back to the drawing board and try to do exactly what I did here."