Popular West Indies batsman Chris Gayle has ruled himself out of this year’s Big Bash League (BBL). The 37-year old disclosed his decision in an on-field interview during the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) clash between Chittagong Vikings and Rangpur Riders.
While contributing to Vikings’ nine-wicket victory at the Shere Bangla Stadium in Dhaka, the Jamaican revealed, “Out of the Big Bash League this year, (I) will spend time with family.”
He had played for Melbourne Renegades in the 2015/16 BBL edition and created a huge furor following a controversial on-field exchange with television presenter Mel McLaughlin. When asked for the reason behind his extra-aggressive batting during a match against Hobart Hurricanes, Gayle gushed, “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 so. Hopefully, we can win this game and have a drink after. Don't blush, baby.”
Needless to say, those comments were deemed sexist and attracted immense criticism from multiple quarters. There were also numerous calls from fellow cricketers as well as other eminent personalities to levy an embargo on him.
Cricket Australia Chief James Sutherland fumed, “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.”
Although the brash opener subsequently issued an apology and was apparently condoned by the administrators, the murmurs of discontent refused to disappear. During his final appearance in the season, he let the bat do his talking with a 12-ball fifty setting the stadium ablaze.
Eventually, as the days rolled by, the negative feelings about Gayle slowly began to decrease. It was embodied by Sutherland himself who quipped, “No matter what anyone at Cricket Australia thought at management level, board level, I think you're on a slippery slope if you start making judgments on players who could or shouldn't be playing in the Big Bash League or in our domestic competitions.”
“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 judgments. I'm not saying that it wouldn't happen, but my judgment is that it's not appropriate, it's about the teams themselves to make the calls.”
However, for this season, Gayle’s recurring back injury and supposed waning reflexes have reportedly caused him to slip under the radar of most BBL teams. As he often does, the burly left-hander has decided to have the last laugh by taking the matter out of the administrators’ hands.