Essex’s Graham Napier sees Chris Gayle smash his world record

Essex Eagles batsman Graham Napier batting during his unbeaten 152 against Sussex Sharks in 2008

Essex Eagles batsman Graham Napier batting during his unbeaten 152 against Sussex Sharks in 2008

ESSEX batsman Graham Napier admitted he was “gutted” to see his record of most sixes in a Twenty20 innings broken by Chris Gayle yesterday.

But Napier, who struck 16 sixes for Essex Eagles during his 152 not out against Sussex Sharks in 2008, said he was surprised his record had stood so long.

West Indian Gayle struck the fastest-ever Twenty20 century from just 30 balls during his record-breaking innings for the Bangalore Royal Challengers yesterday.

Gayle smashed 17 sixes and 13 fours against the Pune Warriors on his way to an unbeaten 175 from 66 balls – the highest individual score in the Indian Premier League.

Napier, who only a week ago scored an explosive 73 not out, including five sixes, off 65 balls for Essex against Northamptonshire in the LV= County Championship, was watching as Gayle broke his record.

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The 33-year-old revealed: “We delayed our afternoon training session by 15 minutes to see the end of his innings and see him break my record. I am a bit gutted about that, but records are made to be broken. I knew it would happen at some point and he was the one most likely to do it.

“He is a class act, especially at that form of the game and he brings a lot to the game with his cool persona and his ability to smash the ball around the park.

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“Watching him batting you could see he was in the groove.

“With the amount of T20 cricket that is being played around the world – there is a tournament every month or two months – I honestly thought the record would have been broken by now, so it was only a question of time.

“They will have to change it to ‘former world record holder’ when talking about me!”

Napier said that to play an innings like his or Gayle’s you needed other factors to be in your favour.

He said: “You need a good batting pitch – and it looked a very good batting pitch – and it didn’t matter where they bowled he eyed up where he was going to hit it.

“You also have to give credit to the guys he batted with – no-one else was trying to do what he was. They were just scoring a single and giving him the strike.”

Former Australia right-hander Andrew Symonds previously held the record for the quickest Twenty20 century when he reached three figures for Kent against Middlesex in 2004.

Gayle’s century – his fourth in the IPL – also helped the Royal Challengers to the highest Twenty20 score, posting 264 for three, to beat Sri Lanka’s 260 for six against Kenya in 2007.

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