Chris Gayle never learns or so it seems.
The macho West Indian star first made the front pages this year for his infamous ‘Don’t blush, baby’ line to Mel McLaughlin in an on-field interview at the Big Bash League (BBL) in Australia.
Gayle escaped with a warning and a stiff fine of AUSD 10,000.
But the smarts just wouldn’t end.
The Jamaican enjoyed rubbing it in naming his newly-born daughter—with partner Tasha—Blush.
Why draw her in into his mess, Chris? 20 years down the line, would your daughter like to be reminded of the circumstances around which she was named so? Go figure.
Trouble goes around in threes.
And there was surely a ‘threesome’ in store.
Chris Gayle pressed down on the accelerator—ignoring speed bumps— when interviewed by Times journalist Charlotte Edwardes where he talked about sex, female equality and homophobia.
Gayle told Edwardes that he had ‘a very, very big bat, the biggest in the wooooorld’ and whether she thought she “could lift it” and that she’d need both hands.
The Jamaican embarrassed her further by questioning whether she’s had any black men and been part of a threesome.
The interview touched on other aspects as well.
On women’s equality, Gayle said:
‘Women should please their man. When he comes home, food is on the table. Serious. You ask your husband what he likes and then you make it.’”
“Women should have equality and they do have equality. They have more than equality. Women can do what they want. Jamaican women are very vocal. They will let you know what time is it, for sure.’
“The culture I grew up in, gays were negative. But people can do whatever they want. You can’t tell someone how to live their life. It’s a free world.”
The timing of the interview could hardly have been more ‘fortuitous’.
Gayle is on the verge of releasing his autobiography, ‘”Six Machine” excerpts of which have been published (where else?) in the Times.
Reacting to Freddie Flintoff’s description of him as a “bit of a chop” after the McLaughlin incident, Gayle said:
“Freddie Flintstone, a young boy like you taking Viagra? Don’t lecture me. The only chop Freddie (Flintoff) knows is when he used to bowl short to me and I would chop him past backward point for four.”
Describing the McLaughlin fiasco, he added:
“Now T20 is different. It’s not Test cricket. It’s chilled and fun and let’s do things different. So when Mel asks me that question I stay in the T20 mind, and answer informal and fun. I meant it as a joke. I meant it as a little fun. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful and I didn’t mean it to be taken serious.
Channel 10’s commentary team could be heard laughing in the background … but someone above them clearly decided to step in, and a throwaway comment in a fun format escalates and blows up and within hours it has turned into a major international incident. “
The southpaw had even stronger words reserved for Ian Chappell.
“Ian Chappell, calling for me to banned worldwide, a man who was once convicted of unlawful assault in the West Indies for punching a cricket official. Ian Chappell, how can you ban the Universe Boss? You’d have to ban cricket itself.”
Former Australian opener Chris Rogers was one of his most vocal critics claiming that he set a bad example to his younger teammates.
Gayle responded thus calling him a bit of a “Roger Rabbit”.
“Chris Rogers, how can you claim that when it was you and me at the bar most nights? I’m not a snitch, but I’ve heard from your own mouth what you’ve done. Next time you want to open your mouth, maybe chew on a carrot instead.”
Is Chris Gayle in trouble yet again? Has he landed in deeper, hotter waters this time around?
His detractors would like to believe so.
This, however, does not prevent any other BBL side from signing him on.
While Somerset chief executive Guy Lavender admitted that he was disappointed with Gayle’s latest blowout, he added:
“But as I’ve said before, we found him to be fantastic the last time he was here, in terms of activities both on and off the pitch.
It’s a shame, because it detracts from his cricketing ability. The fact is, what he has said is inappropriate. But we haven’t had an opportunity to discuss [it] with him. I’m sure we will. But I don’t see it as grounds not to have him playing for us this summer.”
And in India, IPL chairman Rajiv Shukla is taking the matter seriously.
Talking to Times of India, he said:
“The players must behave themselves. We expect the players to adhere to a certain kind of behaviour when the tournament is on. The players should maintain the sanctity of the league. These kind of statements are totally uncalled for in public domain. I will take up this issue with the president and the secretary of the BCCI.”
BCCI’s secretary Ajay Shirke said:
“At this point, we’ll not look into it. We’re focused on completing the IPL, which has reached its final stages. What has happened in this case is between two foreign individuals. It is a personal matter between people who aren’t from India. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we’ll ignore it. If a complaint is brought to us, we’ll act on it. If it develops into something more, we’ll look into it at an appropriate stage.”
Gayle , in his latest interview, believes that most of the criticism directed his way after the McLaughlin imbroglio was racially motivated.
“Successful black men are struggling because people do things to put them down. I would say this anywhere in the world, in any sporting arena, right now in 2016: racism is still the case for a black man. Trust me. They just want to get a little sniff of the dirt. They find out some shit and they want to sink you. It’s reality. You have to deal with that as a successful black man.”
Racism has always been an issue in sport.
Henry Gayle was born in a Kingston slum and used cricket as his vehicle to become one of the world’s most beloved and entertaining sportsmen.
Writing for the Guardian, Andy Bull says:
“In the last year the Zimbabwean Test cricketer Mark Vermeulen was banned by his board after he referred to black Zimbabweans as ‘apes’ on social media, while Vermeulen’s old team-mate Prosper Utseya accused that same board of racism in their running of the sport. And several Pakistani players have spoken out about racism in English county cricket, in the wake of the offence committed by Craig Overton. These issues are always there, bubbling under. But it’s rare for a star player to address them directly, as Gayle has just done.
Gayle was talking about something more insidious, about attitudes ‘off the field’, especially, he seems to be saying, among the media. And some aspects of our coverage should make us uncomfortable. As Peter Oborne pointed out in his book Wounded Tiger, the Pakistani team is often subjected to the most ludicrous stereotyping, which has stretched as far as the suggestions, widespread at the time, that certain members of their 2007 World Cup team may have had a hand in the death of their coach Bob Woolmer. Innuendos always swirl when they play poorly, quicker to gather around them than their competitors, though cheating, and fixing, are universal problems.”
Racism is not restricted to the Western hemisphere.
Foreign cheerleaders in the IPL have complained several times about the treatment and slurs they are subjected to by Indian men.
In 2008, British dancers Ellesha Newton and Sherinne Anderson were prevented from performing during a Kings XI Punjab game.
“An organiser pulled us away. He said the people here don’t want to see dark people. The ‘n’ word was used and they said they only wanted beautiful white girls. We were crying. I could understand if it were the crowd but they were very receptive. This kind of thing has never happened to us – not in Europe, not here, nowhere. “
There have not been any black cheerleaders in any edition of the IPL since.
An unnamed cheerleader in a free-wheeling chat on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything (AMA) had this to say:
“I hate the racism. Why is my team made up of 99% white girls? Why do Indians feel it’s ok to dress white girls up in skimpy outfits but they won’t let their fellow Indian women do it? It’s messed up.
I’ve asked my managers [about why no Indian girls as cheerleaders] and they don’t know. I’ll keep asking around, though, because I’m curious too. They could probably just get good dancers and train them; there’s no shortage of those.”
Chris Gayle adds in his autobiography that some people consider him “lazy“.
“People think that [my] attitude towards the game stink. That’s how it come across: lazy.”
If Gayle’s indolent, his record proves otherwise.
He has played 103 Test matches in 14 years, scored two triple centuries and is arguably the best T20 batsman in the world.
But playing the race card in this seemingly complicated mess only addles the issue.
Racial discrimination is not the only kind that exists. Women everywhere face sexual biases on a daily basis. To claim that one is better or worse than the other sidesteps the issues raised by Gayle’s nonchalance towards the ramifications of his ‘jokey‘ sideshows.
Discrimination of any kind is to be frowned upon.
To clear things up, one would probably hark back to the rustic retorts Indian women (and defenders of their modesty) dish out to eve-teasers and molesters, “Tere maa, behn or beti nahin hai kya? (Don’t you have a mother, sister or daughter?) How would you feel if someone dealt with them in the same way?”
No racism about it—just a question of right behavior in a public space.
That, Chris Gayle, is the crux of the matter. Not anything else, not anything more.