West Indies captain Chris Gayle has denied targeting the Australia paceman for special attention as he hit the fifth-fastest century in Test history at the Waca.
Gayle did not intend to single out Johnson
West Indies captain Chris Gayle has denied targeting Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson for special attention as he hit the fifth-fastest century in Test history at the Waca in Perth yesterday. On a dramatic day two of the third Test, Johnson and Brad Haddin were involved in a confrontation with West Indies spinner Sulieman Benn when Australia were batting in the first over after lunch.
The incident has seen the Australia pair hit with a level one charge of bringing the game into disrepute, while Benn received a more serious level two charge and could face a suspension. The spat started with a mid-pitch collision between Johnson and Benn as Johnson headed to the non-striker's end, prompting a war of words between Haddin and Benn. Two balls later, Haddin prodded the ball back to the giant spinner who took a shy at the batsman, prompting Haddin to jump away in alarm.
Things turned more unsavoury when Johnson came in from the side to push the West Indian, forcing umpire Billy Bowden to defuse a matter. Once Haddin (88) and Johnson (35) went midway through the second session, Australia captain Ricky Ponting declared with the score on 520 for seven, hoping to use a fired-up Johnson to rip through West Indies' top order. But Australia found themselves on the wrong end of an assault by Gayle, who posted his hundred off 70 balls, just 14 balls shy of fellow West Indian Viv Richards's record of 56 balls, to help the tourists to 214 for two at stumps.
Gayle took to Johnson's bowling before tea, with the Australian quickly removed from the attack after four overs cost 34 runs. But Gayle said there was no plan to attack Johnson for his part in the confrontation with Benn. "It wasn't anything personal to be honest with you," Gayle said. "If you watched the deliveries I got, they were balls to be hit to the boundary, they were looseners [from Johnson] and that kind of gave me the momentum to go on and actually be more aggressive.
"So I think the start that I got out there actually allowed things to just flow and when you get an easy scoring opportunity early up, that kind of set the trend for us." It was a trend he continued in the final session. Resuming on 55 after tea, Gayle thrilled the crowd with strokeplay as he charged towards the ton, bringing up 79 in just 50 balls, before slowing down as the next 21 came from 20 balls.
* PA Sport