Former Australia cricketer Kerry O’Keeffe has written an open letter to Indian cricket fans, saying he is devastated by the reaction to some of the comments made by him on air during the third Test between India and Australia in Melbourne.
After coming under fire for his remark about Railways canteen staff in reference to Mayank Agarwal’s runs in India’s domestic cricket, O’Keeffe was slammed on social media on Saturday for struggling with pronunciations of the names of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja.
O’Keeffe, who is commentating for Fox Cricket in Australia, and is heard on air in India as well with rights holder Sony Sports using a combination of its own in-studio commentary and the world feed, has responded saying he’s still coming to terms with the negative interpretation of the remarks.
Here’s the full text of the open letter published first on foxsports.com.au.
I have been devastated by the reaction to my on-air comments on Fox Cricket during the recently completed Third Test between Australia and India.
I am coming to terms with how negatively those words have been interpreted.
That interpretation is not who I am. It is not what I represent. My style as a commentator is to attempt to find a quirky view to lighten up some of the serious analysis. When I made a remark about Indian first-class batting averages within their domestic cricket competition being made against a “canteen” bowling attack, I was being entirely tongue in cheek. I was certainly not disrespecting Indian cricket, where I toured as a schoolboy and for which I have the greatest admiration as a cricketing nation.
I accept that some fans may not always relate to my sense of humour — but missing the mark on a joke between overs is vastly different to what I’ve been accused of on Twitter and in some sections of the media in recent days. I pride myself on doing extensive research before a match and when I stumbled over the names of Pujara and Jadeja on Day Four, I took a swipe at myself for getting them wrong.
There was no intention to ridicule those two wonderful players and I am horrified by any suggestion to the contrary. I had spent months researching and analysing these two players and when the moment arrived, I stuffed it up. The joke was on me.
My family and I are shocked and saddened that so many have been upset. I have worked alongside my dear friend and colleague Harsha Bhogle for almost 25 years. After many years on radio together, the opportunity to work with Harsha again on Fox Cricket is an absolute pleasure. The support of my fellow commentators over what has been a tough few days for me is truly appreciated.
I respect India, its cricketers and its supporters for their deep love of the game and it hurts me to think a couple of misplaced attempts at humour might compromise our mutual joy in all things cricket. While I’ve listened to the feedback to some of my calls, it’s now important for me to move on and look to the Sydney Test. I love calling cricket for a living and I’ll continue to do it in my slightly offbeat style. I’d like to think I produce more diamonds than rocks in the commentary box and that viewers will give me the benefit of the doubt if I bowl the occasional no-ball.
Yours Sincerely, Kerry O’Keeffe.