London: West Indies' two-time World T20-winning captain Darren Sammy has defended his team-mate Chris Gayle, who has once again revived accusations of sexism against him with some lewd comments in an interview with a British daily.
Gayle, 36, came under fire for asking Australian broadcaster Mel McLaughlin out on a date in a live television interview during a Big Bash Twenty20 game in January. In the ongoing IPL, the Royal Challengers Bangalore opener sparked another sexism row when he asked a Times journalist a string of inappropriate questions.
Sammy, however, chose to play down the latest row.
"Chris Gayle is the universe boss, a team-mate of mine who I admire and respect. I just think people target Chris for no reason.
"To me, Chris is one of our cricketing heroes. He's an entertainer, first, but a lot of people have jumped on his back," Sammy was quoted as saying by 'ESPNcricinfo'.
He added, "I always support Chris because of what he does on a cricket field. Yes, we have a responsibility to ourselves, and the people who watch us, but sometimes I feel Chris is a target for newspaper headlines."
Sammy called for West Indies' players and administrators to put their "egos" on the back burner for the the betterment of cricket in the Caribbean islands.
West Indies Cricket Board and the players had been at loggerheads over a pay dispute for a long time, and the bitter divisions were laid bare after their World T20 triumph in April when the West Indian players, led by an emotional Sammy, hit out at the WICB for not supporting them.
"It's sad that for so long it's been a back-and-forth between the board and players. But these three wins show we can win cricket at all levels, and if we could work together, that's all you need. Players and board working together, sharing a common goal, with no egos. It would be better for West Indies cricket but at the moment it's just not happening," Sammy said.
"They always say sports and politics don't mix, which is true. But at the end you have to give credit to the most important thing, which is the cricket. And who plays the cricket? The cricketers. That is your product. If you plant corn, you have to take care of it, nurture it, fertilise it and then you can reap the rewards, so it is similar to the West Indies cricket team," he added.
Sammy is set to turn out for Hampshire in the English County season.