Kohli takes an indirect swipe at O’Keefe

Kohli takes an indirect swipe at O’Keefe

PTI file photo

Even as Kerry O’Keefe wrote an apologetic open letter to Indian players and fans, published on the Fox Sports website, clarifying his uncharitable remarks while on air during the course of the third Test, Virat Kohli took a veiled but dignified swipe at the former leg-spinner-turned-commentator after winning the match here on Sunday.

O’Keefe has been slammed heavily both in the social media and in a section of the Indian media for making disparaging remarks about the Indian first-class cricket set-up and the Indian skipper, speaking at the post-match ceremony, credited the domestic cricket back home for fast bowlers’ and the team’s success.

“Our first-class cricket is amazing, which is why we won,” said Kohli. “Credit must go to first-class set-up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad,” he emphasised in reference Bumrah’s emergence as a lethal bowler.

While he didn’t mention any name, it was clear that Kohli’s comments were targeted at O’Keefe. Even Bumrah, man of the match for his haul of 9/86, made it a point to mention the contribution of Ranji Trophy behind his success in Test cricket.

“We train very hard and we are used to bowling a lot of overs in Ranji cricket, so the body is doing well,” Bumrah said.

O’Keefe, meanwhile, said he was “devastated” by the reaction to his on-air comments on Fox Cricket.

“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,” he explained.

O’Keefe also said that it was not his intention to poke fun at names of some Indian players.

“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,” he insisted.

The under-fire commentator also added, “My family and I are shocked and saddened that so many have been upset”.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox