Power player: Chris Gayle of the Melbourne Renegades. Photo: Getty Images As it happened: Thunder v RenegadesChris Gayle in uncomfortable interview with Mel McLaughlinChris Gayle makes light of $10,000 fine on Instagram
In a match that dripped with drama, Chris Gayle again found himself in the bad books, a week after “Don’t Blush Baby-gate”, for refusing to take what appeared to be an easy single when he hammered the ball to long-on during Sydney Thunder’s loss to the Melbourne Renegades on Monday night.
Adding to the theatre after being slugged with a $10,000 fine for asking Channel 10 reporter Mel McLaughlin out during an interview, Gayle took strike with her watching from the boundary. One of his fiercest critics, Shane Watson – who said Gayle’s behaviour during the interview didn’t come as a surprise to those who know him – was bowling at him.
However, Gayle was savaged by the commentators for turning back his batting partner Tom Cooper, who was keen to take a run after the Renegades were set 174 for victory.
A week after Gayle was said to have taught young men how not to talk to women by asking McLaughlin out for a drink during a live interview before saying “don’t blush, baby”, he was all but accused of showing young cricketers how not to play in a format where one run can mean the difference between a win and loss during his 28 from 20 deliveries.
He was dismissed the next ball when Fawad Ahmed took a catch off Clint McKay and even Cooper seemed unimpressed when quizzed by Channel 10’s team for his reaction. “It wasn’t a good bit of cricket,” he said.
Usman Khawaja suggested it seemed “weird” before adding “the world boss does what the world boss does” and extolling the West Indian’s virtues as a batsman who can take a game away from the opposition – something he helped do in front of 18,602 people.
Opposing captain Michael Hussey took time out from his disappointment of losing a must-win match to defend his controversial opponent .
“I understood what he was trying to do, he was trying to take advantage of the power play,” said Hussey. “That’s what he’s there for, to take full advantage of the power play.
“He generally does it extremely well, he’d obviously lined up that bowler [McKay] and thought he could get him. Fortunately for us it went our way, but on another day he could hit the next two balls for sixes. That’s good tactics. I wouldn’t have a go at him for that, personally.”
Former n Test skipper Ricky Ponting criticised Gayle on the television coverage, saying: “This is the most unbelievable, ridiculous cricket I’ve ever seen.
“Sometimes in cricket and in life you get what you deserve, and he got what he deserved there.
“What sort of message does that send to the boys on the sideline?”
It was one of many dramatic twists in a game that started so well for the men in electric green.
Khawaja added another 62 runs to his incredible summer haul, while days after telling the national selectors he was no longer torturing himself about playing in the World Twenty20 Cup, Watson hit four big sixes in his inspired 62.
The Thunder set the Renegades what seemed a tough total. After watching the home team’s first 10 overs the statisticians scrambled for the record books, wondering if the Thunder could eclipse the benchmark 210 scored by the Renegades and Hobart Hurricanes in BBL03.
It was a sizzling start – Khawaja blasted 50 off 29 deliveries – but the ball and the pitch conspired against them, making it tough to maintain the pace when the ball became soft and the pitch played slower.
Khawaja, who has dominated every attack he’s faced this summer, managed only 12 runs off his last dozen deliveries. He seemed to lose his mojo when Watson dominated the strike, but few could complain. Batting at No.3 Watson seemed to give his team a winning edge.
Andre Rusell seemed hellbent on sealing the deal when he added 16 runs – 10 from a big six and a boundary – but there were concerns when he was struck by a sharp Rimmington delivery that crashed into his shoulder. He was in full swing, trying to belt the ball into orbit, and stepped on to his stumps.
While the injury forced Russell to rest after his opening two overs, he was called back into the attack to try and rescue the match after a masterful 91-run partnership between Cameron White and Dwayne Bravo.
Bravo’s whirlwind 47 runs off 24 balls took the game’s momentum from the Thunder and, testimony to the power of Bravo’s hitting, his bat flew to the other end of the pitch when he lost his grip.
After surviving an LBW appeal when he was on 10, White’s 61 from 46 provided the Renegades with the anchor, and the runs, needed to challenge the scoreboard and he was named man-of-the-match.
Russell kept the Thunder in the hunt by removing both men and when Tom Beaton was run out the Renegades needed four runs from seven balls.
The Thunder tried to rescue a game they should have sewn up but Peter Nevill delivered the KO blow by hitting a four to win the game.
“It’s no fun,” said Khawaja. “I’ll take the win over a good knock any day … we’ve just got to win, that’s all we can control.”