‘Gayle needs Caribbean region’s support’

Kingston (Jamaica), Jan 19 (IANS) Leading regional academic Sir Hilary Beckles has thrown his support behind embattled West Indies batsman Chris Gayle and has encouraged the Caribbean region to do the same.

Gayle recently found himself embroiled in a sexism row following a controversial interview with Australian reporter Mel McLaughlin during a game in the Big Bash League T20 tourney, reports CMC.

Sir Hilary, the vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies, said he believed Gayle had made a genuine mistake and should be forgiven.

“I take his words for what he said, that he meant no offence. I take his word for that. I think he has given his apology,” Sir Hilary said on Monday.

“We have to give him the support that he needs. Lots of sportsmen and women from time to time might not say the diplomatically pleasing thing, but in most cases, the environment of sport, comments are sometimes taken in the wrong way, and I just want to see Chris dust off all of this.”

Sir Hilary, a former West Indies Cricket Board director, said it was important that Gayle rebounded from the controversy as there was still an important role for him to play in West Indies cricket.

“This event has humbled Chris, and I want to big him up to get back,” Sir Hilary pointed out.

“I have known him for many years, and I wish him all the best, and I say to him, ‘come back and fulfill your destiny, and your destiny is in the heart of West Indies cricket’.”

The 36-year-old Gayle courted controversy when he appeared to openly flirt with McLaughin by telling her during a live TV interview: “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.”

He continued: “So hopefully we can win this game and we can have a drink after. Don’t blush, baby.”

Gayle was subsequently censured by Cricket Australia and Big Bash League organisers, and also fined Aus$10,000 (US$7,000).

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