'We will not bar Gayle from BBL'
MELBOURNE, Australia (CMC)
Cricket Australia (CA) has no plans to banish West Indies batting superstar Chris Gayle from the Big Bash League over last season's 'Don't blush, baby' controversy.
This was confirmed by CA's chief executive, James Sutherland, who said anti-corruption was the only basis on which the domestic governing body would seek to exclude a player from the annual Twenty20 league.
"No, I think it's an issue for the clubs themselves," Sutherland said.
"No matter what anyone at Cricket Australia thought [of the Gayle incident) at management level, board level - I think you're on a slippery slope if you start making judgements on players who could or shouldn't be playing in the Big Bash League or in our domestic competitions."
"Don't tell me, tell the media and public".
He continued: "Because, when does that ever end? My view is unless there's a very, very strong reason along the lines of anti-corruption, then it's difficult for us to be making those judgements.
"I'm not saying that it wouldn't happen, but my judgement is that it's not appropriate ... it's about the teams themselves to make the calls."
Gayle courted controversy when he appeared to openly flirt with Channel TEN's Mel McLaughlin, in a boundary-line interview during a game between his Melbourne Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes last January.
Following his innings, Gayle told a stunned McLaughlin: "I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well, that's the reason why I'm here. Just to see your eyes for the first time. It's nice."
And after she appeared uncomfortable, Gayle told her: "So, hopefully, we can win this game and we can have a drink after. Don't blush, baby."
His comments sparked outrage in cricket and non-cricketing circles, with Sutherland among the first to condemn Gayle's utterances. Gayle was subsequently fined $10,000.
There were also calls for Gayle to be banned from the competition.
Renegades last month, however, refused to rule out a return for Gayle, stressing they had an open policy for all players.
"You'd like to think there's a place for everybody [in the Big Bash]. The excitement he (Gayle) can generate is extraordinary," chairman Jason Dunstall said.
"We want all those types of players on display. That's the idea. What we want is the best players in the world at the BBL."
However, cross town rivals, Melbourne Sixers, were not as keen.
"While he's obviously a very talented cricketer, we don't see him as a cultural fit at the Sixers especially considering our strong focus on female engagement," said Sixers chief Dom Remond.
Gayle's brand value has risen even higher since West Indies' capture of the Twenty20 World Cup in India earlier this month.
The Jamaican left-hander smashed an unbeaten century against England in the Caribbean side's opening game of the tournament, becoming the first player to score two T20 World Cup hundreds.