Chris Gayle: Cricketer fined after telling female reporter, ‘Don’t blush, baby’

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West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle fined $10,000 in sexism row

Live on air, he told female reporter, "Don't blush, baby"

CNN  — 

It’s the type of comment you might expect to hear in a 1970s nightclub – not on the sidelines of a professional sports match.

And it’s a comment that has cost cricket star Chris Gayle dearly, after his club fined him $AUD10,000 ($7,100) for his remarks to Australian Network Ten reporter Mel McLaughlin live on national television.

After she congratulated the West Indian on smashing a 15-ball 41 for the Melbourne Renegades in a Monday Big Bash League match against the Hobart Hurricanes, Gayle complimented McLaughlin’s eyes, propositioned her for a post-match drink and laughingly told her: “Don’t blush, baby.”

‘Inappropriate and disrespectful’

The comments sparked outrage and a hefty fine from Gayle’s team, which will be donated to the McGrath Foundation, a breast cancer charity supported by Sydney Cricket Ground.

“Chris’s comments were completely inappropriate and disrespectful. There is simply no place for these type of comments at the Melbourne Renegades,” the Twenty20 team’s CEO Stuart Coventry said in a statement.

“The club would like to extend a formal apology to Mel McLaughlin. Mel is an outstanding sports presenter.”

The penalty leaves Gayle free to bat for the Renegades in Saturday’s derby against the Melbourne Stars, though his remarks have been widely condemned.

‘Just not cool’

Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland told a press conference in Sydney that Gayle’s comments were “a pretty significant mis-hit.”

“Anyone that sees the humor in that is misunderstanding it and somewhat delusional about the situation. It’s inappropriate and very, very public. It just goes to show the point about how inappropriate and just not cool that is. It’s not a nightclub, it’s a workplace. Those sorts of comments border on harassment.”

English cricketer Andrew Flintoff praised McLaughlin’s professionalism on Twitter, describing Gayle as a “chop.”

But not everyone joined in the condemnation, with British television presenter Piers Morgan taking a dim view of the debate, arguing the cricketer had been “cheeky” – in a comment retweeted by Gayle.

Australian hockey international Georgie Parker also suggested the situation would be different if the gender roles had been reversed.

Network Ten didn’t escape embarrassment in the row after one of its producers tweeted Gayle’s comment with the hashtag “#smooth.” The tweet was promptly deleted.

‘Simple joke’

Though he apologized for his comments, Gayle told a media scrum at Melbourne airport that the incident had been blown out of proportion.

“There wasn’t anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel. 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.”

Speaking on her network for the first time since the incident, McLaughlin said she was “disappointed” but accepted Gayle’s apology.

“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 … I would have much preferred to be talking about that instead,” she said.

“I’ve not spoken to him (Chris) personally, but I know he issued an apology. I accept that and I just want to move on.”

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