The night belonged to Chris Gayle

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By: Melton Williams

GayleChris050125TheGayleForceGbg.jpgFor the second year running, Christopher Gayle, Jamaica's most prolific run-scorer of recent times, copped the distinguished Cricketer of the Year award in his native homeland at the Jamaica Cricket Association's (JCA's) Annual Award Ceremony held on Thursday night at the Courtleigh Auditorium.

The in-form West Indies opener was not present to collect his award as he is currently in Pakistan where West Indies and the host country are competing in a three-match Test series and five One Day Internationals.

Gayle was also absent last year, this time he was suffering from a bout of influenza. Dudley Gayle, the father of Chris, accepted the award, jointly sponsored by the JCA and Restaurant of Jamaica along with a cash prize of $100,000.

The 27-year-old Gayle was the runaway winner of the recently-concluded ICC Champions Trophy 2006 player of the tournament. The opening batsman was comfortably the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 474 runs at an average of 79.00 and a strike-rate of 92.94 runs per hundred balls. He scored three hundreds in the tournament, against Bangladesh, England and South Africa. He also took four catches and captured eight wickets with his off-spin, a mark only bettered by Jerome Taylor (13 wickets) among his team mates.

Other major awards went to Taylor, who was voted 'Young West Indies Cricketer of the Year; Dexter Augustus of Manchester Cricket Association received the Newton Jacks Trophy for Scorer of the Year; Gareth Breese (the Laurie Williams Trophy for the most disciplined Jamaica senior player); David Bernard Sr (the Derief Taylor Trophy for Coach of the Year) and photographer Headley 'Dellmar' Samuels (The President's Award).

Lorenzo Ingram of Trelawny walked away with six awards including Most Runs in the Supreme Ventures Super Cup, Top All-Rounder and the G. Roy Williams Trophy for the Most Disciplined Player.

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