CAPE TOWN – Chris Gayle may have been all the way back in Jamaica, but Jozi Stars captain Dane Vilas hailed the “Universe Boss” for his contribution to the team’s march towards the inaugural Mzansi Super League title.
The Stars romped to the title at Newlands on Sunday, crushing Cape Town Blitz by eight wickets.
Gayle, though, missed the final after flying back to the Caribbean for his mother’s funeral. And even though the world’s leading T20 run-scorer did not make the expected impact with the willow when he was in South Africa, Vilas was quick to point out that the West Indian played a massive role in the eventual triumph.
“We obviously feel for the Chris. He is going through a tough time with his mother. But the way he came into the side he made a big difference,” Vilas said. “He has played for so many teams in the world and it was nice to feed off him, and draw as much experience from him.”
The Stars skipper was particularly impressed by the way Gayle managed to engineer a sense of team spirit in such a short space of time, particularly with a group of players that have largely not played together.
“It was a quick turnaround from the four-day competition and he got the guys to gel together and play as a team,” Vilas added.
“Chris also deflected quite a lot. There was a lot of hype around him, which allowed the guys to get on with doing their thing.”
Coach Enoch Nkwe also pointed out their close victory over Durban Heat at Kingsmead as a major boost midway through the campaign.
Tailender Nono Pongolo smashed two sixes off the final two deliveries that allowed the Stars to pull off a remarkable victory.
“We knew there was a close game around the corner. The fact that it came on the road too was a great motivation booster. It goes a long way for the team and gave us a lot of confidence,” Nkwe said.@ZaahierAdams