Renegades under pressure to sanction Gayle
Chris Gayle's BBL paymasters, the Melbourne Renegades, are under pressure to discipline their highest profile player after what the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland called "borderline harassment" of the Ten Network presenter Mel McLaughlin during last night's match in Hobart.
Cricket Australia and Renegades officials were in dialogue throughout the afternoon, and Sutherland said he would not rule out sanctions when questioned on possible consequences for Gayle. "I'm not ruling out sanctions," Sutherland said. "We have to work through and take advice from relevant people as to what the right approach is going to be, but it's too early to say given that this happened late last night."
Should CA be discontent with the Renegades' response, it is within their power to discipline Gayle as a player contracted to play in an authorised competition. Sutherland also said that CA were waiting to see how Gayle himself responded to events, but a doorstop at Melbourne's Tullamarine Airport suggested that contrition was not exactly at the forefront of his mind.
"There wasn't anything meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel. If she felt that way, I'm really sorry for that," Gayle said. "There wasn't any harm meant in that particular way, to harm any particular person in any particular way like that. It was a simple joke - the game was going on. Things get out of proportion but these things happen."
More proportional were Sutherland's words, which underlined his irritation at the actions of a star player in a competition designed to help strengthen cricket's appeal to women. "I think it's a pretty significant mishit by Chris Gayle," Sutherland said. "Those comments are completely out of line and inappropriate and something that we don't in any way condone, and there's no place in cricket or the Big Bash League for those sorts of comments.
"The circumstances last night was live television and I don't think anyone should be put in the sort of position that Mel McLaughlin was put in. It's not a nightclub, and one of the things that hasn't dawned on everyone is it's actually a workplace. It's Chris Gayle's workplace, it's also Mel McLaughlin's workplace and those sorts of comments border on harassment and are completely inappropriate in cricket, inappropriate in a workplace."
McLaughlin has not spoken since the incident, and was complimented by Sutherland for the way she had handled it. "I'd just like to acknowledge the highly professional manner in which Mel McLaughlin dealt with the situation, and our thoughts are with her," he said. "I've certainly left a message for her to let her know we're absolutely supportive of her and understand the difficult predicament she was put in yesterday.
"Anyone who sees the humour in that is misunderstanding and somewhat delusional about the situation. I think they're forgetting as well that it's a workplace situation. It's inappropriate and it's very, very public. That just goes to the point about how inappropriate and 'not cool' that is."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig