Chris Gayle showed flashes of brilliance but departed for 21 in his first Big Bash League innings for Melbourne Renegades since his infamous sideline interview with Channel Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin.
Gayle was fined $10,000 by Renegades and was widely condemned for the comments he made to McLaughlin during Monday night’s BBL clash against Hobart Hurricanes.
The West Indian opened the innings with Tom Cooper against Melbourne Stars at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night and was nearly out for a duck after he skied the first ball he faced.
After a circumspect period as he got his eye in, Gayle hit two towering sixes before he was caught in the deep by Rob Quiney off the bowling of Marcus Stoinis in the ninth over.
He was not approached for an interview as he departed the playing field via the players race instead of walking to the bench but later joined his teammates on the sideline.
McLaughlin reported on the match but did so from the commentary box rather than the sideline.
Network Ten confirmed via a Cricket Australia spokesperson before the game that it was a pre-planned move as part of McLaughlin’s regular rotation between the two roles – not an attempt to avoid an awkward meeting between the pair.
If Gayle was nervous about his first public appearance after a week of controversy he didn’t show it before the match.
He smiled and chatted to several Renegades WBBL players as they milled around the warm-up area following their win over Sydney Thunder in the curtain-raiser.
The rest of the game was certainly action packed, with a bowler dismissing a batsman with his nose and a lengthy smoke delay.
A week after Stars defeated Renegades at the MCG in front of a BBL record crowd of 80,883, the green team repeated the dose – again by eight wickets – in the rematch at Etihad Stadium.
The official attendance of 43,176 fans broke the venue record for a cricket crowd, but Renegades supporters were left disappointed as the home side’s finals hopes took what might be a hit as lusty as a Kevin Pietersen six.
The loss leaves the Renegades (4) two points adrift of the fourth-placed Sydney Thunder (6), while the Stars joined Perth Scorchers on eight points.
Having been sent in, Renegades made 6-155 before Pietersen (67 runs off 43 balls) and Peter Handscomb (39 off 30) combined for a match-winning 94-run partnership that secured Stars their fourth win of BBL05 with two overs to spare.
The start of Stars innings was delayed by around 15 minutes as umpires waited for thick smoke caused by fireworks during the break to clear.
The Renegades next face the Thunder in a do-or-die clash on Monday night, while the Stars host the hapless Brisbane Heat on Thursday.