Sydney: West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle defended his suggestive comments to a female reporter during an interview broadcast live on Australian television on Tuesday by saying it was a "simple joke."
After scoring 41 from 15 deliveries in the Melbourne Renegades win over the Hobart Hurricanes in Australia's domestic Twenty20 Big Bash League on Monday, the former West Indies captain told television reporter Mel McLaughlin that the pair go out for a drink and made remarks about her appearance during a post-innings interview. He added, "Don't blush, baby" during an awkward pause in the interview.
However, after his comments on live television drew severe criticism, Gayle apologized. "There wasn't anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel. If she felt that way, I'm really sorry for that," Gayle was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. "There wasn't any harm meant in that particular way, to harm any particular person in any particular way like that...It was a simple joke - the game was going on. Things get out of proportion but these things happen," said Gayle.
Mel McLaughlin, a reporter with the official broadcaster of the league, interviewed Gayle shortly after he was dismissed. She asked the batsman on his aggressive batting to which he replied: “I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well. That’s the reason why I’m here, just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice so. Hopefully we can win this game and have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby.”
The presenter brushed the incident off and attempted to steer the conversation back to the match at hand, and a potential hamstring injury for Gayle.
McLaughlin seemed bemused at the proposition, before tersely responding "I'm not blushing" as Gayle awkwardly laughed the comment off — there were audible snickers from the commentary booth as the interview was happening.
Meanwhile, the head of Cricket Australia has joined the criticism of Chris Gayle's , saying the former West Indies captain's behaviour bordered on harassment and were inappropriate in the workplace.
Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland said Tuesday that it was "a pretty significant mis-hit by Chris Gayle."
"Those comments are completely out of line," Sutherland told reporters at a news conference. "It's not a nightclub — it's actually a workplace, it's Chris Gayle's workplace and it's Mel McLaughlin's workplace and those comments border on harassment and are inappropriate for cricket and inappropriate for the workplace."
Sutherland said "I'm not ruling out sanctions" but would take advice on what they would be.
"What will be the case is Chris and everyone in the cricket community knows and understands what our position is on this and why we think it is entirely inappropriate," Sutherland said.
Anthony Everard, head of the BBL, described the comments as "disrespectful and simply inappropriate." In a statement posted on Twitter he said: "There's just no place in the BBL, or for that matter cricket anywhere, for that sort of behavior."
Channel 10 head of sport David Barham was quoted by the Herald Sun newspaper as saying the network was deeply offended and was seeking an apology.
The BBL, one of a growing number of domestic Twenty20 cricket tournaments, is a TV ratings winner in Australia and drew a crowd of 80,000 for a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground over the weekend.
As part of the broadcasts, some players wear cameras on their caps or batting helmets and are involved in live interviews during the action.
Barham told the Sun Herald that Gayle would no longer be fitted with a microphone for on-field comments.
Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry said he agreed that Gayle's comments were out of line.
"We'll certainly be talking to him in association with Cricket Australia about it," Coventry said. "The Melbourne Renegades is all about its appeal to kids, families and females.
"There's just no place for that sort of behavior."
With agency inputs