Chris Gayle: Somerset 'still interested' in West Indies batsman
Somerset have confirmed they are "still interested" in re-signing batsman Chris Gayle despite his fine for asking a reporter on date during an interview.
The 36-year-old West Indies batsman was disciplined for "inappropriate conduct" after telling journalist Mel McLaughlin: "Don't blush baby".
He subsequently apologised, but said the reaction was "out of proportion".
Gayle had a spell at Taunton last season and the club said he made a positive impact on and off the pitch.
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Speaking before the incident, chief executive Guy Lavender told BBC Somerset: "We aspire to get the very best players in the world. We have the finances available.
"We know Chris Gayle really enjoyed his time when he was here," Lavender added. "Last season he was tremendous on and off the pitch, all the pieces of the jigsaw need to align and we'll see where we get to over the next month."
Gayle is playing for Melbourne Renegades in Australia's Big Bash League and his comments came as they beat Hobart Hurricanes on Monday.
Gayle was answering questions from Network Ten's McLaughlin at pitch-side when he made the remark, which was widely condemned as sexist.
He said: "To see your eyes for the first time is nice. Hopefully we can have a drink afterwards."
McLaughlin described Gayle's date request as "a little bit disappointing".
Former Australia opener Chris Rogers, who has signed to play for Somerset this summer, told ABC Grandstand in Australia: "From my time at the [Sydney] Thunder I was very disappointed in his attitude and his behaviour. I've never been a fan since.
"I would go out with him socially in a group, as you do in a team and I'd probably distance myself from him.
"I was very wary of the role he was setting for the young guys and I spoke to them quite a bit; 'Do you think this is good behaviour? Would you do this kind of thing?' And all of them, to give them credit, were like 'no, we don't think this is right'."
|Ex-England batsman Geoffrey Boycott|
|"He's made himself look a fool. If he's trying to be jokey or if he's attracted to her, if he wants to ask her out, don't do it on air. He shouldn't be saying that on air. It's embarrassing."|
Gayle is 'box office'
From meeting a fan who dived into a river to retrieve one of Gayle's sixes to turning out for South Devon Cricket Club, the Jamaican immersed himself in life at England's smallest cricketing county last summer, with Somerset keen for him to return.
Gayle totalled 328 runs in three appearances for Somerset in 2015, with 85 not out against Hampshire his lowest score.
Somerset director of cricket Matt Maynard declared the West Indies star to be "box office" during his time in Taunton, and Rogers admitted his worth to the club was huge.
"The funny thing is, I spoke to Matt Maynard who was the coach of Somerset, and Chris was apparently unbelievable in Somerset. Sold out the place every time he played, to the point where opposition CEOs were willing to pay Somerset so he could come and play away games," Rogers said.
"This guy has an amazing grab, and he brings crowds. But equally you can't tolerate that kind of behaviour."