SYDNEY: West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has said he was joking when he asked an Australian reporter out during a live TV broadcast and said he was sorry if she was offended by the widely condemned remarks.
Gayle had just led the Melbourne Renegades to victory in a nationally televised Twenty20 match in Hobart on Monday when he was approached for an interview by Channel 10 reporter Melanie 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.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told reporters on Tuesday the comments were “out of line” and sanctions against Gayle were a possibility once the appropriate processes had been completed.
Gayle, speaking to reporters on his return to Melbourne on Tuesday, said a “simple joke” had been “blown out of proportion”. “There wasn’t anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel,” he added.
“If she felt that way, 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.”
Growing increasingly irritable with the questioning, Gayle said he had not had a chance to speak with the reporter and terminated the interview when asked why McLaughlin should be subjected to such comments at work.
“Did she tell you she was uncomfortable. Did she tell you that?” he snapped. 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.” Sutherland, who offered Cricket Australia’s full support to McLaughlin, said it was not up to him to decide whether the comments constituted sexual harrassment.
“I’m not ruling out sanctions,” he added.
“We obviously need to work through and take advice from the relevant people as to what the right approach is going to be. But it’s too early to say.”