KINGSTON –– Vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles, believes that Chris Gayle has been humbled by the consequences of his recent actions in the Australian Big Bash and said that the Jamaican cricketer needs the support of the Caribbean people.
Gayle drew the ire of sports fans and administrators alike two weeks ago over comments he made to Australian female sports journalist Mel McLaughlin during a post-match interview.
While the cricketer later apologised and was fined almost US$10,000 by his Melbourne Renegades, there were calls by some for him to be banned from cricket.
Beckles, who said that in his judgment, Gayle was the best cricketer in the world and that he prayed every day for his return to the West Indies fold, added that the player was guilty of a lack of diplomacy.
“I take his words for what he said, that he meant no offence. I take his word for that. I think he has given his apology,” Sir Hilary, who was guest speaker at Friday evening’s RJR Sports Foundation Awards ceremony, told The Gleaner.
“We have to give him the support that he needs. Lots of sportsmen and women from time to time might not say the diplomatically pleasing thing, but in most cases, the environment of sport, comments are sometimes taken in the wrong way, and I just want to see Chris dust off all of this,” he added.
The Barbadian educator was himself at the heart of a controversy involving Gayle in 2011, when during the Sir Frank Worrell Lecture on the rise and fall of West Indies cricket, he referred to Gayle as the “don” of the contemporary West Indies team.
“All of us who are educators –– and I am first and foremost an educator –– I have seen how all of us can sometimes make statements that are not ideal under the circumstances. But he is a cricketer, and he is a sportsman; and like every sportsman, you make mistakes on the field and off the field.
“When you make mistakes on the field, you go to your coach and you correct them. When you make mistakes off the field, you go to your support team and you correct them. And when you correct them, you come out and demonstrate that you are much better and much bigger,” Sir Hilary said.
While adding that he wished to leave his own controversy in the past, Sir Hilary also said that he believed Gayle to have learnt from the experience, adding that he believes the Jamaican has a role to play in the future of the Caribbean sport.
“This event has humbled Chris, and I want to big him up to get back. I have known him for many years, and I wish him all the best, and I say to him, ‘Come back and fulfill your destiny, and your destiny is in the heart of West Indies cricket’,” he said.