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Chris Gayle spared blushes of fronting Mel McLaughlin in BBL return

Chris Gayle will avoid the embarrassing situation of having to man up and look Mel McLaughlin squarely in the eye when he makes his first appearance for the Renegades since his infamous Big Bash League interview.

We can reveal that Network Ten considered putting McLaughlin on the boundary for the Renegades' local derby against the Melbourne Stars at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night – not for the sake of good television but as a sign of defiance from their reporter.

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Chris Gayle's interview fail

West Indian cricketer Chris Gayle has been slammed for making 'inappropriate' comments during an interview with Network Ten journalist Mel McLaughlin.

Instead, it will stick to the original roster that has her perched in the stands as the host of the broadcast. Roger Oldridge will conduct the player interviews, as scheduled.

Given some fans have argued Gayle is the victim, you could not guarantee McLaughlin wouldn't cop unfair criticism from the outer. People: how good are they?

The match will also be McLaughlin's first match behind the microphone since the "Don't blush, baby" controversy that escalated into a national furore. With their own sexism scandal bubbling along, the Turnbull government surely couldn't have believed its luck.

Gayle's playboy antics have been dragged out into the light. That the International Cricket Council and the West Indies Cricket Board have ostensibly washed their hands of the incident goes a long way in explaining the problem: Gayle's behaviour has been known for years – yet nobody was willing to do anything about it.

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Indeed, this column has been told by other female reporters of some grubby remarks they've received from the Jamaican superstar during his time in Australia.

For her part, McLaughlin handled the whole episode like a professional. For the record, she wasn't upset or dismayed by Gayle's antics. She was no damsel in distress. But she was angry. The way she dismissed Gayle's advances humiliated him. He wasn't smart enough to recognise that he'd been made to look like a fool on national television.

Unbelievably, or maybe typically, McLaughlin was smashed up on social media when Gayle was slapped with a wet lettuce leaf – a $10,000 fine – by the Renegades.

McLaughlin had not gone on a crusade, making wild accusations. She had others lining up to do that for her. She had been dragged into a raging controversy for doing one simple little task …

Her job.

Bullseye for security

The terrorist attacks in Paris – which included an attack on a football match at Stade de France – led to an increase in security at all Australian sporting events. Fans now expect to have their bags searched and examined with metal-detecting hand wands whenever they enter a venue.

On Boxing Day, in the hours before Sydney FC's clash with Central Coast at Allianz Stadium, security discovered one supporter carrying a bunch of darts. Cue the indignation of football fans claiming another outsider is trying to bring down their code, but … seriously? Darts to a football match?

We don't want to speculate what he might have been planning to do with them, but we're thinking it's not a game of 501.

Spotted at the SCG: Socceroos star Tim Cahill.

Spotted at the SCG: Socceroos star Tim Cahill. Photo: Getty Images

Very wet inside as well

"The Big Wet" that washed away the Sydney Test was replaced by "The Big Drink". The unseasonal rain that cruelled the match didn't dampen the spirits (see what we did there?) of some types who were more than prepared to honour their corporate box tickets as they looked out onto a sodden SCG.

In the Trust suite late on day three, Socceroos star Tim Cahill was spotted enjoying a quiet beverage with former fast bowler Brett Lee.

"Everyone still went – and drunk the day away," said one seasoned corporate box hopper.

Oh Sydney, you magnificent bastard.

Back in town: Jarryd Hayne speaks to the media at Sydney Airport.

Back in town: Jarryd Hayne speaks to the media at Sydney Airport. Photo: Katherine Griffiths

Legend of Hayne lives on

Now that Jarryd Hayne is back in town, NRL club bosses will be falling over themselves to speak to him about returning to rugby league.

The Roosters and Eels remain keen but it won't happen, regardless of whether the new San Francisco 49ers coach – whoever that may be – keeps him or not.

Hayne flew out of San Fran on Tuesday morning still hopeful of playing for Australia in the legends match against Liverpool FC, but insurance could not be sorted at the 11th hour.

If he had played, we wonder what the owners of LA Galaxy would have thought about Steven Gerrard taking the same field as an NFL running back.

The Hayne Plane will relish his time at home because the last few months have been taxing, according to those who know him. He was said to be deeply disheartened when sacked 49ers coach Jim Tomsula continually kept him on the sidelines as the side registered loss after loss.

Don't expect Hayne to be pounding the publicity trail while his here. He's on a strict media ban as Telstra puts the finishing touches on a much-anticipated documentary about his journey.

If there is one thing we love in sport, it's a journey.

Jennings saga has year to run

If Michael Jennings is squeezed out of the Roosters, it is more likely to happen in 2017 instead of this year.

We're told Jennings' contract increases to beyond $800,000 next year, and with the Roosters wanting to bring Sonny Bill Williams back they will need to find some salary cap space.

We've been watching the Roberts drama unfolding from afar for the last two months, and there are a few things that don't add up.

Roberts said he felt "betrayed" by the minor clerical error that voided his contract with the Titans. That, as they say, will do me. It also sounds suspiciously like something his cousin, Anthony Mundine, would say.

And you have to feel for unwanted Broncos centre Dale Copley, who is being squeezed out to make room for James Roberts. Coach Wayne Bennett told Copley he was the man to replace the retired Justin Hodges.

These quotes in late October from the mastercoach are ringing in our ears: "Dale Copley is Justin Hodges' replacement. I've made my mind up, Dale will be in Justin's position next year. His time has come, there is no more waiting for Dale.

"Dale needed to know he had a career at this club and a future here. I have told him he will be replacing 'Hodgo' and that's reassuring for him. Now that he knows it's his position, he will have the opportunity, it's up to him to make sure he keeps the position until he wants to retire."

Greenberg in frame, still

This column revealed earlier this week that Todd Greenberg was being strongly tipped to become the next NRL chief executive.

We'll see. The campaign is on to make it so. Chairman John Grant is said to be relishing his time in the sun as the interim chief executive (although he denies that is actually his title), but a decision mightn't drop until late June.

THE QUOTE

"I would say this: We've got several years of Jimmy T's salary left and we're going to eat it." – 49ers boss Jed York, who will pay out $14 million to sacked coach Jim Tomsula. We know what type of sandwich that tastes like.

THUMBS UP

Allow me to drag my sorry self onto the Ben Simmons bandwagon. If you had told me I'd be sitting in front of the heater on a rainy Wednesday watching college basketball on ESPN, I'd have suggested rehab. But watching the 19-year-old play for the LSU Tigers is now compulsory.

THUMBS DOWN

When Renegades boss Stuart Coventry describes Chris Gayle's behaviour as a "cultural indifference", it pricks the ears. Really? Chris Gayle, international cricketer who has travelled the world, some of it as captain of his nation, is a sheltered little mushroom? Righto.

It's a big weekend for … Nick Kyrgios, who is coming off a blistering win over Andy Murray and can continue Australia Green's push at the Hopman Cup against France on Friday.

It's an even bigger weekend for … the deep, deep pockets of the buyers of horseflesh at the Magic Millions sales on the Gold Coast, where a couple of Pierro yearlings are expected to fetch more than $1 million each.

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