Chris Gayle apologises and says he regrets TV date 'joke'
Chris Gayle has apologised to top Australian TV journalist Mel McLaughlin after asking her out for a drink during a live television interview, but said his comments have been blown "out of proportion".
The West Indian was being questioned by Channel 10 reporter McLaughlin after his dismissal for Melbourne Renegades against Hobart Hurricanes in the Big Bash League when he suggested they should go out at the end of the match.
"I wanted to see your eyes for the first time, hopefully we can win this game and then we can have a drink after as well," he said.
Gayle (36) then added to McLaughlin, live on air: "Don't blush, baby."
The left-hander received an angry backlash for his comments while McLaughin was reported to be "angry and upset".
Gayle insists his was joking, though has offered a full apology to McLaughlin.
"A lot of things have flared up from a simple comment, a joke, a simple joke on air and it seemed to went out of proportion," Gayle said at a press conference at Melbourne airport.
"There wasn't anything at all meant to be disrespectful or offensive to Mel and if she felt that way I'm really sorry for that.
"There wasn't any harm meant in that particular way to any particular person like that.
"It was a simple joke, the game was going on. Entertainment, things get out of proportion but these things do happen.
"There wasn't any harm done, I'll leave it at that. I'm sorry for that, we'll have to move on."
Gayle has been criticised by the head of the Big Bash tournament and by his own club.
Anthony Everard, the head of the Big Bash League (BBL), told Gayle - effectively now a Twenty20 gun-for-hire - that there is no place for his comments.
"I heard Chris' comments and they're disrespectful and simply inappropriate," Everard said.
"We'll certainly be talking to him and the Renegades about it. This league is all about its appeal to kids, families and females.
"There's just no place in the BBL - or, for that matter, cricket anywhere - for that sort of behaviour."
Stuart Coventry, chief executive of the Renegades, added: "I heard Chris' comments and we agree with both Cricket Australia and Channel 10 that they're disrespectful and simply inappropriate.
"We'll certainly be talking to him in association with Cricket Australia about it.
"The Melbourne Renegades is all about its appeal to kids, families and females. There's just no place for that sort of behaviour."
Former England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, covering the Big Bash for Australian television, condemned Gayle on Twitter.
"Well played @Mel_Mclaughlin !! Big fan of @henrygayle but made himself look a bit of a chop there," he wrote.
Prior to his apology, Gayle retweeted a post from broadcaster Piers Morgan, who wrote: "I'm absolutely outraged that everyone's so absolutely outraged by @henrygayle being a bit cheeky to a female TV reporter. #BBL05."