SYDNEY • The Melbourne Renegades fined star opener Chris Gayle US$7,000 (S$9,900) yesterday after his attempt to flirt with a female presenter on live TV was condemned by cricket authorities as "completely out of line".
Ten Network reporter Mel McLaughlin found herself being asked out for a drink during an interview with the burly West Indian after he blasted 41 runs off 15 balls in Australia's Big Bash League late on Monday.
Live on air, Gayle - who later insisted he was just joking - said he was happy to be interviewed by McLaughlin "just to see your eyes for the first time". "Nice, so hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after," he said to her.
"Don't blush baby," the Jamaican added, prompting the unimpressed McLaughlin to shake her head and reply, "I'm not blushing."
"Sorry," added Gayle, breaking into a big laugh.
But Cricket Australia and Big Bash League officials did not see the funny side of what Gayle later said was meant as a joke.
JUST A JOKE
There wasn't any harm meant in that particular way... It was a simple joke.
CHRIS GAYLE, on the interview incident with Ten Network reporter Mel McLaughlin
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland offered support for McLaughlin, saying that no one should have to face such comments which were "completely out of line" and "inappropriate for the workplace".
He said Gayle was not in a "nightclub" and his behaviour was "not cool".
"I think that anyone who sees humour in that is misunderstanding and somewhat delusional about the situation," Sutherland added.
With the governing body leaving open a threat of sanctions, the Renegades quickly announced a fine.
Club chief Stuart Coventry said the money would be donated to the Jane McGrath foundation, named after legendary fast bowler Glenn's late wife, who died of breast cancer.
He offered a formal apology "for the offence caused" to McLaughlin - who later accepted the apology - and the sport's legion of fans.
"We think this is a one-off scenario," Coventry said, describing the exchange as "a cultural indifference... done in jest".
"He's accepted it (the fine) in good faith and he's looking forward to playing what's hopefully a sell-out derby game on Saturday," Coventry added.
The opener was apologetic yesterday morning, but also tried to brush off the incident and said it had been blown out of proportion.
"There wasn't anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel," Gayle told reporters. "If she felt that way, I'm really sorry for that.
"There wasn't any harm meant in that particular way... It was a simple joke.
"The game was going on. Entertainment, things get out of proportion, but these things happen... We have to move on. Simple."
The cringeworthy incident lit up social media.
Former England captain and Ten commentator Andrew Flintoff tweeted: "Big fan of @henrygayle but he made himself look like a bit of a chop there."