The West Indies captain, Chris Gayle, has denied targeting the Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson for special attention as he hit the fifth-fastest century in Test history here yesterday.
On a dramatic second day of the third Test in Perth, Johnson and Brad Haddin were involved in a confrontation with the West Indies spinner Sulieman Benn when Australia were batting in the first over after lunch. The incident resulted in the Australia pair facing a level one charge of bringing the game into disrepute, while Benn received a more serious level two charge and could face a suspension.
Once Haddin (88) and Johnson (35) went midway through the second session, the Australia captain, Ricky Ponting, declared with the score on 520 for 7, hoping to use a fired-up Johnson to rip through West Indies' top order. But Australia found themselves on the wrong end of a spectacular assault by Gayle, who posted his 100 in 70 deliveries, just 14 balls shy of fellow West Indian Viv Richards' record of 56 balls, to help the tourists to 214 for 2.
Gayle certainly took to Johnson's bowling before tea, with the Australia quick removed from the attack after four overs cost 34 runs. But Gayle said there had been no plan to attack Johnson for his part in the confrontation. "It wasn't anything personal," Gayle said. "If you watched the deliveries, they were balls to be hit to the boundary, they were looseners [from Johnson] and that gave me the momentum to go on and be more aggressive."
It was a trend he continued in the final session. Resuming at 55 after tea, Gayle thrilled the crowd as he charged towards the ton, bringing up 79 in just 50 balls. The Australia spinner Nathan Hauritz bore the brunt of the assault, hit for consecutive sixes in his first over. Gayle made 102, then was caught by Shane Watson off Doug Bollinger.
Fastest Test centuries
1. I V A Richards (WI) v Aus, 1986, 56 balls
2. A C Gilchrist (Aus) v Eng, 2006, 57
3. J M Gregory (Aus) v SA, 1921, 67
4. S Chanderpaul (WI) v Aus, 2003, 69
5. C H Gayle (WI) v Aust, 2009, 70
6. R C Fredericks (WI) v Aus, 1975, 71
7. M Khan (Pak) v NZ, 1976, 74
8. K Dev (India) v Sri Lanka, 1986, 74
9. M Azharuddin (India) v SA, 1996, 74
10. G L Jessop (Eng) v Aus, 1902, 76