West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has been fined A$10,000 ($7,197) by the Melbourne Renegades Twenty20 team for asking an Australian TV reporter out on a date and directing personal comments at her during a televised pitchside interview.
Gayle had earlier suggested Monday’s incident was a “simple joke” that had been “blown out of proportion” but the Renegades acted after widespread condemnation of the incident.
“Chris’s comments were completely inappropriate and disrespectful. There is simply no place for these type of comments at the Melbourne Renegades,” Chief Executive Stuart Coventry said in a team statement.
“The club would like to extend a formal apology to Mel McLaughlin. We think of her very highly and the club and players will ensure we work with her in a professional and respectful manner in future.
“We’ve had several discussions with Chris over the past day and he has acknowledged that his comments were out of line.”
Gayle had just hit 41 from 15 balls to help the Renegades to victory over the Hobart Hurricanes in the nationally televised match in Tasmania when he was approached by Channel 10 reporter McLaughlin.
After suggesting that he had played well in order to get an interview with McLaughlin, the big-hitting batsman proceeded to direct personal comments towards her.
“To see your eyes for the first time is nice,” the 36-year-old said. “Hopefully we can have a drink afterwards. Don’t blush baby.”
The comments were immediately condemned by the Big Bash League and Channel 10, who said McLaughlin had been angered and upset by the encounter.
Gayle, speaking to reporters on his return to Melbourne on Tuesday, said he had not meant to be disrespectful or offensive to McLaughlin. “(It was a) simple comment, a simple joke. It seemed to be blown out of proportion,” he said.
“If she felt (offended), I’m really sorry for that. There wasn’t any harm meant in that particular way.
“It wasn’t any harm done and like I said, I will leave it at that. I’m sorry for that. We have to move on, simple.”
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said the comments were a “pretty significant mis-hit” by Gayle and certainly no laughing matter.
“I think that anyone who sees humour in that is misunderstanding and somewhat delusional about the situation,” he told reporters at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).
“I think they’re forgetting it’s a workplace situation. It’s inappropriate and it’s very, very public. It just goes to the point about how inappropriate and not cool that is.”
Gayle, a big draw for Twenty20 leagues around the world, earns around $250,000 for playing in the Big Bash League, according to media reports.