A thrusting Jamaican left-hander, Gayle earned himself a black mark on his first senior tour - to England in 2000 - where the new boys were felt to be insufficiently respectful of their elders.
But a lack of respect, for opposition bowlers at least, has served Gayle well since then. Tall and imposing at the crease, he loves to carve through the covers off either foot, and has the ability to decimate the figures of even the thriftiest of opening bowlers. In a lean era for West Indian cricket - and fast bowling in particular - Gayle's pugnacious approach has become an attacking weapon in its own right.
His 79-ball century at Cape Town in January 2004, on the back of a South African first innings of 532, was typical of his no-holds-barred approach. However, Gayle's good run ended when England came calling early in 2004, and he averaged 26 against their potent pace attack - Steve Harmison, in particular, fancied his chances against Gayle, dismissing him four times in seven innings, as a lack of positive footwork was exposed.
But men with little footwork often baffle experts, and after returning to form with an uncharacteristic century against Bangladesh, he exacted his revenge on England's bowlers with a battering not seen since Lara's 400, before coming within a whisker of emulating Lara himself, with a career-best 317 against South Africa in Antigua. In the disastrous 2005-06 tour of New Zealand he led the batting in the three-Test series, piling 235 runs - no other West Indian touched the 200-run mark. He also bowls brisk non-turning offspin, with which he has turned himself into a genuine one-day allrounder. Maturing quickly, he has become a consistently prolific scorer in the ODIs.
He averaged over 40 in the 2006-07 season with three hundreds - an unbeaten 133 against South Africa in the Champions Trophy being the highlight, and three fifties. But expected to be one of the stars of the World Cup in the Caribbean, his batting was a major disappointment. In the absence of the injured Ramnaresh Sarwan for their tour in 2007, Gayle was handed the captaincy for the limited-overs series in England and Ireland and found immediate success by beating England 2-1.
He also led in the Test series against South Africa, leaving with a 1-1 result, and was retained as captain ahead of Sarwan for the home Tests against Sri Lanka in 2008. A subsequent Test and ODI defeat at home against Australia led him to quit the captaincy, but he changed his mind, and the following season was instrumental in the defeats of England, both as captain of the Stanford Superstars in their winner-takes-all US$20million match in Antigua in November, and the Test team that secured a 1-0 triumph to bring home the Wisden Trophy after a nine-year hiatus.
By now, however, the Indian Premier League was taking over as his primary concern - Gayle's US$800,000 price-tag made him one of Kolkata's most expensive players, and though a groin injury ruled him out of the first edition in 2008, he played seven games in 2009 before flying to England just 48 hours before a Test match at Lord's against England. The match was lost in three days, leading a disillusioned Gayle to declare that he "would not be so sad" if Test cricket died out.