West Indies opening batsman Chris Gayle has once again been accused of sexist behaviour.
International reports are that during a recent interview with Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes, Gayle asked her a number of inappropriate questions. The powerful Jamaican left-hander is alleged to have asked Edwardes how many black men she had had and whether she had ever engaged in a threesome. He is also alleged to have suggestively told Edwardes that he had “the biggest bat in the world”.
However, Gayle, who is to take up a lucrative contract with England county Somerset in the imminent NatWest T20 Blast, has not met with the indignation in England which he drew in Australia following an incident with a reporter there.
Somerset has dismissed any suggestion that they will renege on their six-game deal with Gayle as a consequence of his comments.
“I was disappointed to read the article [about the incident],” Guy Lavender, the Somerset chief executive, said. “But as I’ve said before, we found him to be fantastic the last time he was here, in terms of activities both on and off the pitch.
“It’s a shame, because it detracts from his cricketing ability. The fact is, what he has said is inappropriate. But we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss [it] with him. I’m sure we will. But I don’t see it as grounds not to have him playing for us this summer.”
In January while playing in the Big Bash League Gayle was fined $10,000 by his club, Melbourne Renegades, after propositioning Channel Ten’s pitch-side reporter, Mel McLaughlin, during a mid-match piece to camera, in which he first asked McLaughlin out for a drink and then responded to her visible unease with the words, “Don’t blush, baby”.
Gayle came in for considerable criticism from the media and several former and current cricketers in Australia. There were calls in some quarters for him not to be allowed back in the Big Bash League.
However. Gayle has remained largely unrepentant and in his new autobiography Six Machine, he lashed out at some of his critics while pointing out some of their own indiscretions. Gayle homed in on former England international Andrew Flintoff, as well as former Aussie Test players Chris Rogers and Ian Chappell.
Gayle said his statements in Australia to the reporter were uttered in fun and was part of the entertainment make-up of T20 cricket.
“Now T20 is different. “It’s not Test cricket. It’s chilled and fun and let’s do things different. So when Mel asks me that question I stay in the T20 mind, and answer informal and fun. I meant it as a joke. I meant it as a little fun. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful and I didn’t mean it to be taken serious,” he wrote.
Gayle said the Network Ten’s commentary team could be heard laughing on air after the incident.
“But someone up above them clearly decided to step in, and a throwaway comment in a fun format escalates and blows up and within hours it has turned into a major international incident,” he wrote.
“Don’t hate me just because I’m not what you want me to be. Don’t hate me because I’m not who you are. I am me and I am honest. I stand by my friends and my friends stand by me.”
Among the most scathing critics of his actions was Rogers, who is also a team-mate of Gayle’s at Somerset. Rogers accused Gayle of setting a bad example for his younger team-mates, adding that his was a “pattern of behaviour … [that] you see over and over”.
In response, however, Gayle insinuated that Rogers was a hypocrite, and had acted more like “Roger Rabbit”.
“Chris Rogers, how can you claim that when it was you and me at the bar most nights?” Gayle wrote. “I’m not a snitch, but I’ve heard from your own mouth what you’ve done. Next time you want to open your mouth, maybe chew on a carrot instead.”
Flintoff had said after the incident that Gayle made himself look a bit of a “chop”. But Gayle suggested that his criticisms were invalidated because of Flintoff’s admission, in an interview last year, that he had once been run out in a Test match after taking Viagra.
“Freddie Flintstone, a young boy like you taking Viagra? Don’t lecture me,” wrote Gayle. “The only chop Freddie knows is when he used to bowl short to me and I would chop him past backward point for four.”
Chappell, who had called for Gayle to face a world-wide ban following his comments, also came in for a rebuke.
“Ian Chappell, calling for me to be banned worldwide. Ian Chappell, a man who was once convicted of unlawful assault in the West Indies for punching a cricket official. Ian Chappell, how can you ban the Universe Boss? You’d have to ban cricket itself,” Gayle wrote.