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Former face of Big Bash League Chris Gayle's star power fading as 'don't blush baby' furore rages

Cricket Australia says it no longer needs the superstar pulling power of Chris Gayle to be the face of the Big Bash, which is just as well after a day when he marred the overwhelming success of the Twenty20 competition.

The freewheeling Jamaican is on the verge of going from the penthouse to the outhouse after being formally put on notice by Cricket Australia over his controversial "don't blush baby" interview with reporter Mel McLaughlin.

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Gayle was fined $10,000 by the Melbourne Renegades, who then donated the sum to the McGrath Foundation, but is free to play out the rest of the tournament. Had CA not deemed the punishment as appropriate, it could have charged him for conduct unbecoming under the players' code of conduct.

It is the heaviest financial sanction imposed by Australian cricket since David Warner was slugged $11,500 as part of the raft of punishments he received for his bar room dust up with England's Joe Root in 2013.

On notice: Chris Gayle arrives at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday after his night of controversy in Hobart.
On notice: Chris Gayle arrives at Melbourne Airport on Tuesday after his night of controversy in Hobart. Photo: Josh Robenstone

But opinion will be divided as to whether the Renegades, who are believed to have signed Gayle on a six-figure deal, should have made a stronger stance by sacking the player or had over-reacted to the widespread furore.

The episode has taken the gloss off what has been a red letter BBL5 for CA and raised debate over sexism in cricket at a time when the governing body is aiming to attract more women to the game.

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Once the biggest name in the BBL, Gayle is now just one of many high-profile stars plying their trade in the tournament.

While there is still a strong international flavour, previously unheralded locals such as Brisbane's Chris Lynn and Adelaide's Travis Head are fast becoming household names in their respective home towns.

"One of the strengths of the Big Bash League is that it's not reliant on one superstar player - current or retired," said Big Bash League head Anthony Everard. "On any given night fans can see some of the game's greatest players coming up gainst some of Australia's most exciting talent, and that's been a major part of the league's success."

The rise of the Big Bash has taken place largely in the absence of Gayle, who has missed the past two editions after a lean two years with Sydney Thunder though he was handsomely rewarded financially. He did so little with the Thunder they had no interest in re-signing him, choosing instead to pursue a recruiting policy that focused more on team and building club culture.

Gayle has been known more as a party boy than a bad boy but his prime-time blunder has not come as a surprise to insiders.

Renegades chief Stuart Coventry dismissed the drama as a "one-off" incident though reports have surfaced of other unwelcome advances to female reporters.

Having earlier denounced Gayle's behaviour as "completely out of line" and "inappropriate", CA chief James Sutherland weighed in again on Tuesday night, saying the batsman "got it badly wrong last night".

"We are working incredibly hard to ensure cricket is a sport for all Australians - men and women, boys and girls - and we just won't tolerate behaviour that undermines that ambition," Sutherland said.

"The public's damning response to his comments demonstrate just what people expect of our elite cricketers.

"As the sanction has been imposed by his club, CA will not be laying a charge under our code of behaviour, but we will be formally putting Chris on notice that if anything like this happens again in the BBL, the consequences will be far more severe."

Gayle apologised on Tuesday morning, saying his on-air "joke" had been blown out of proportion.

"There wasn't anything at all meant to be disrespectful to Mel, or offensive," Gayle said.

"If she felt that way, then I am really sorry for that. There wasn't any harm meant. It was a simple joke.

"In entertainment, things get out of proportion. But these things happen and there wasn't any harm done.

"I will leave it at that."