Tony Becca: Gayle guilty as charged, but ...
There are two kinds of people in this world: there are those who think of others in whatever they are doing, and there are those who simply do not.
Recently, Chris Gayle got himself in hot water way Down Under, in far-away Australia, when, during an interview with a beautiful television reporter, he misread the situation, the time and the place, spoke too openly, too flirtingly, and too invitingly to her, and got scalded for doing so.
Almost every woman, every man, and every child took on Gayle for his lack of respect to the woman, a professional woman; and he did so while she was doing her job, and on the air, and in public at that.
Gayle's timing was impeccable, as usual, on that day, and he got what he deserved for his atrocious behaviour. What is a joke to one man is something else to another man. On another day, and in another setting, it may also have been complimentary. On that day, however, it was totally disrespectful, regardless of Gayle's popularity, or of his own inflated ego, and whether he realised it or not.
It was not funny at all.
For whatever it was worth, and whether he meant it or not, Gayle apologised for his flirtation with Mel McLaughlin. Following reports of previous transgressions, or like transgressions, however, some people followed up the so-called apology and a fine of US$10,000 with calls for him to be fired from his job as a member of the Melbourne Renegades Big Bash T20 cricket team.
As a man, a son of a woman, a brother of sisters, a husband, and a father of daughters, I do not and cannot condone Gayle's behaviour. I, however, would not go as far as to try and interfere with his employment as Ian Chappell has done, not for this blunder.
Gayle's behaviour on Australian television was outrageous and appalling, but I dare say, not criminal, not by any means whatsoever.
It was simply the sort of behaviour not expected from any well-thinking young man, and certainly not one coming from a co-educational school as Gayle does, certainly not one coming from a family, including a mother and a sister, and not coming from a sportsman and from one who has been so good and so great that he has travelled the world, or a great part of it, many, many times.
Gayle's problem, it seems, is that, as a cricketer, he is great, he is famous and popular, he is rich and attractive, and he knows it. More than that, however, he probably feels that he has a right, or the right, because of who he is, to behave like he is better than other ordinary mortals.
Probably, when all is said done, Gayle believes, based on my experience with many cricket stars, that cricket is so important to the West Indian people and to the world that, because of their prowess in the game, because of their contribution to victories from time to time, they are not only sports stars of the people, but heroes of the people.
Sometimes this leads to obnoxious behaviour by those who are treated in this way because they know no better, or simply because they feel they have a right to act that way.
Maybe both reasons apply to Gayle, maybe sports stars move to a different beat.
While Gayle is guilty of conduct contrary to good behaviour, however, or to accepted good behaviour, and must pay the price, he is not alone in soiling his name, his family's name, his school's name, and his country's name.
Cricket West Indies should share some of the fallout of the Gayle issue.
For years now, some other journalists and I have been talking about grooming potential territorial and West Indies cricketers, talking to them about things they are likely to expect on and off the field, and how to deal with them.
From my experience, some West Indies players have always behaved like they are better than the people who pay to watch them play and their attitude has been way below expectations, some West Indies players' behaviour, their language, in public places like airports, have been embarrassing, their appearance, their dress, in restaurants at home and abroad, have been disgraceful, and their general behaviour, their attitude, towards women, have sometimes been deplorable.
West Indies players, some of them, have always behaved like they should dress how they want to dress, speak how they want to speak, go where they want to go, and do whatever they want to do whenever they want to.
West Indies cricket has always been, or mostly been, controlled by the territories who have the big boys on the team. It has oftentimes been a case where the respective politician moves to the music of the big boys, and it has always been a case where the big boys get away with almost anything, and whatever they want.
Remember when a West Indies captain did not take his place in the field one morning during the Test match against England in Antigua, remember the time, late in the evening, when a West Indies captain ran down the pitch and bellowed an appeal for a leg before wicket decision in a Test match against England at Kensington Oval?
Remember when Courtney Walsh, captain of Jamaica and the West Indies, refused to spin the toss at Chedwin Park with another territory's player who was the captain of his team and wanted the captaincy of the West Indies team, and do you remember the final of the regional four-day competition, when a Jamaican player did not play the match between Jamaica and Guyana at Kensington Oval because he played a benefit match in Antigua?
Remember also the time when the West Indies team went to South Africa, went back to London, and called the president to a meeting over fees?
There were many other times when West Indies cricketers played the wrong stroke without correcting it, and got away with it.
There was also the time during the 2003 World Cup in South Africa, on a morning flight from Kimberley to Johannesburg, with the Kenya and West Indies teams on board, and a West Indian player opened up, loud and clear for all to hear, against the West Indies manager.
It was nasty. I was sitting beside the manager.
West Indies Board members and others knew about these and other things that were done by West Indies players, but nothing was ever done or said about them, not to anyone's knowledge. They happened and they were brushed aside without even a word of caution, or remorse.
Gayle's action was poor, to say the least, but had some attention been paid to similar or other indiscretions in the past, it may not have happened this time around.
Ian Chappell, the legendary Ian Chappell, has called for a ban on Gayle, and he may be right in doing so, but he is the last one who should make such a call. Ian Chappell was the Australian captain who hit Guyanese Vic Insanally on the steps of the members pavilion at Bourda one early morning during the Super Test in 1979.
Ian Chappell even appeared before the court to answer charges for assault. I was there, and I reported on it. I was one of the few people who saw it.