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Chris Gayle has farewelled the Big Bash League for this summer - and possibly forever - with a social media outburst in which he hit back at former cricketers who criticised his behaviour during an interview with journalist Mel McLaughlin. Gayle also declared himself a league-builder in the Twenty20 format and said that if he had played his last BBL innings his "memory with the fans will live on forever".
His comments were widely criticised, including by Cricket Australia, and while Gayle was not suspended by his team, Melbourne Renegades, it is considered unlikely he will be welcome in future BBL tournaments. Gayle used his Instagram account on Tuesday, the day after his last innings of the series, to thank the Renegades and the Australian fans for their support.
"Ppl think I may have played my last innings in Aus but my memory with the fans will live on forever!!" Gayle wrote. "I build leagues around the world and Big Bash is one of them ... 'Give the ppl what they want'."
Gayle's conduct during the interview was criticised by various media outlets and former players, including Andrew Flintoff, who tweeted at the time that Gayle had "made himself look a bit of a chop". Gayle's former Sydney Thunder team-mate, Chris Rogers, was more expansive on ABC radio during the Sydney Test and said he had concerns about the influence set for younger players.
"From my time at the Thunder, I was very disappointed in his attitude and his behaviour and I've never been a fan since," Rogers said at the time. "From what I saw, if I had have been in the Thunder the next year, it would have been my advice that he shouldn't have been anywhere near the set-up.
"The reason I think he hasn't played in the BBL for a while is because that was said: 'Stay away from Chris Gayle because he brings more trouble than he's worth'. This is a pattern of behaviour that if you know the guy you see it over and over. To defend it, I think is not right at all. I don't see it as funny at all. He says it's just a joke. Well, it's not just a joke is it?"
Although he did not name anyone, Gayle was scathing about the criticism he had received.
"To the MEDIA, Thank You all so! The Haters, I Thank you even more ... I think a lot of past and present cricketers who smile in front my face could've have there say In the public when my so call issue was going on, but y'all don't have the BALLs to stand firm when it matters - but yet when u see me you're like, Chris that's BS against you, it was blown out of proportion smh [shaking my head]...don't tell me, tell the media and public!
"The past cricketer who say I make myself look like a chop, the other who claim I was no good to the youngsters while playing for the thunder, the next one who said he expect that sort of behavior from Chris - Y'all can kiss my 'Black Rass' I love Australia and I will be back again even for the ... oi oi".