Melbourne Renegades opener Chris Gayle has sparked the first great sporting Twitter meltdown of 2016, propositioning Network Ten Big Bash League presenter Mel McLaughlin live on air.
Gayle had just been dismissed for a dazzling 41 off 15 balls in the Renegades comfortable win over Hobart, and was being interviewed by McLaughlin at the side of Bellerive Oval.
But after being complemented on his aggressive batting, Gayle turned his sights firmly on McLaughlin.
• Chris Gayle brushes off interview as ‘simple joke’
• Mel McLaughlin ‘angry and upset’ with Chris Gayle after interview
“I wanted to come and have an interview with you as well, that’s why I’m here — just to see your eyes for the first time,” he told McLaughlin, who looked embarrassed by the ordeal.
“Hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after, don’t blush baby,” he said, before dissolving into laughter. Big Bash commentators could be heard tittering off-camera as well.
McLaughlin told the 36-year-old she wasn’t blushing, then proceeded to complete the interview, quizzing Gayle about injuries.
Watch the exchange below:
— Steve Smith (@stevesmithffx) January 4, 2016
The interview sparked fury on Twitter, with most coming out in strong defence of McLaughlin.
Just saw the Chris Gayle garbage. Anyone who knows Mel knows she’s a top pro & doesn’t deserve that. Show some class! — Benny O’Neill (@BennyONeill) January 4, 2016
A former England cricket captain criticised the quip, and commended McLaughlin for her composure.
— andrew flintoff (@flintoff11) January 4, 2016
But some were prepared to cut Gayle a bit of slack, like this curious take on proceedings from SEN’s Andy Maher:
Chris Gayle. So wrong. But a little bit right. — Andy Maher (@MGMaherSEN) January 4, 2016
While some said if the gender roles were reversed, no one would bat an eyelid.
Next time I get interviewed by a male I’ll do a Chris Gayle, and I’m fairly sure no one would blink an eye lid.. Let’s calm our farms people
— Georgie Parker (@georgieparker) January 4, 2016
Even the host broadcaster didn’t know what to make of the interview, initially tweeting that Gayle had been “smooth”, before deleting that tweet and crediting McLaughlin for maintaining her composure.
Commentator Mark Howard, however, did say Gayle “probably went a bit too far” and that the remarks were “not appropriate”, during the telecast.
Gayle’s antics drew ire from the top level of the Big Bash, with league manager Anthony Everard weighing in.
“I heard Chris’ comments and they’re disrespectful and simply inappropriate,” Everard said in a statement.
“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.”
Gayle himself joined the social media reaction, echoing journalist Piers Morgan’s defence of his actions.
“I’m absolutely outraged that everyone’s so absolutely outraged by @henrygayle being a bit cheeky to a female TV reporter,” Morgan tweeted, which the cricketer then retweeted.