Sydney: Former West Indies captain Chris Gayle was fined but avoided suspension for making inappropriate comments to a female reporter during a live TV interview during a Big Bash League Twenty20 match in Australia.
After scoring 41 from 15 deliveries for the Melbourne Renegades in a win over the Hobart Hurricanes on Monday night, Gayle suggested to television reporter Mel McLaughlin that the pair go out for a drink and made remarks about her appearance.
He added, "Don't blush, baby" during an awkward pause in the interview. Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland on Tuesday joined the criticism of Gayle's suggestive comments, saying it bordered on harassment and was inappropriate in the workplace.
Renegades chief executive Stuart Coventry reacted by fining Gayle $10,000 Australian dollars ($7,300). "It was done in jest but it's inappropriate. We had a look at some history and we think that this is a one-off scenario," Coventry said.
Coventry said Gayle was "quite surprised" when informed of the fine, which will be donated to charity.
Sutherland said Gayle "got it badly wrong last night." "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.
Gayle's $10,000 fine will be donated to the McGrath Foundation in honour of Jane McGrath Day— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 5, 2016
"We are working incredibly hard to ensure cricket is a sport for all Australians – men and women, boys and girls - and we just won't tolerate behaviour that undermines that ambition."
The @RenegadesBBL have also extended a formal apology to Mel McLaughlin— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 5, 2016
Sutherland said that as the Renegades had sanctioned Gayle, the veteran batsman would not face further action from Cricket Australia for this incident.
Coventry and Gayle both apologised to McLaughlin, with the player defending his comments as a "simple joke."
"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.
"It was a simple joke - the game was going on. Things get out of proportion but these things happen."
.@renegadesbbl chief Stuart Coventry said Gayle's comments were 'completely inappropriate and disrespectful'— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 5, 2016
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.
Mel has now accepted Gayle's apology according to a report on Cricket Australia's official website. "“I’m a little bit uncomfortable. I’m not really used to being in the centre of any sort of story and this one certainly escalated, but I’m okay,” McLaughlin said.
“It was certainly unexpected. It was obviously a little disappointing because he had done so well out there with the bat. He’d scored 41 off 15 balls, smashing sixes and I was really excited to talk to him about that. I would have much preferred to be talking about that instead,” she added.
As part of the broadcasts, some players wear cameras on their caps or batting helmets and are involved in live interviews during the action.
Channel 10 head of sport David Barham was quoted by the Herald Sun newspaper as saying Gayle would no longer be fitted with a microphone for on-field comments.
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