SYDNEY (AP) Chris Gayle was fined but avoided suspension for making inappropriate comments to a female reporter in 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, the former West Indies captain 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,'' Coventry said. ''We had a look at some history and ... we think that this is a one-off scenario.''
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,'' he said.
''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 behavior that undermines that.''
Sutherland said that because the Renegades had sanctioned Gayle, the veteran batsman would not face further action from Cricket Australia for this incident.
Coventry and Gayle both apologized 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.''
McLaughlin said in a television interview Tuesday she accepted the apology and wanted to put the episode behind her, adding that she'd prefer to be talking about cricket than being at the center of a controversy.
''I've not spoken to (Gayle) personally,'' she said. ''I know he issued an apology. I accept that and I just want to move on.''
The BBL, one of a growing number of domestic Twenty20 tournaments helping revolutionize cricket, 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.
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.