India are “hurt” by comments made by commentator Kerry O’Keeffe during the third Test at the MCG. Their bowling coach Bharat Arun has said the team has looked to channelise the hurt into doing better on the field, but ESPNcricinfo understands quite a few members of the team are furious over the comments.
On day one of the Test, O’Keeffe ran down debutant Mayank Agarwal’s Ranji Trophy triple-century, saying it must have come against a “Railways Canteen Staff XI”.
“Yes, it does hurt you but when people make those remarks, there is nothing you can do about it,” Arun said at the end of the fourth day’s play. “It’s beyond your control. If you can channelise that hurt towards doing better on the field that answers all the questions.”
The team management, Arun said, is not planning to make an official complaint about O’Keeffe’s comments at the moment.
India head coach Ravi Shastri had delivered his riposte to O’Keeffe on day two, after Agarwal had scored a half-century on Test debut. “Mayank’s got a message for Kerry,” Shastri said. “When you do open your canteen, he wants to come and smell the coffee. And he wants to compare it to the ones back home in India. Is the coffee better here in your canteen, or the one back home?”
O’Keeffe apologised for those comments, but on day four he riled up Indian fans all over again. O’Keeffe was getting some stick from his fellow commentators for struggling to pronounce some of the India players’ names, when he said this: “Why would you call your kid Cheteshwar Jadeja?” mixing the two names he had been struggling with and using a slight accent to pronounce them. It was accompanied by loud chuckles from the rest of the commentary box.
India were yet to learn of this comment by the time of Arun’s press conference.
O’Keeffe, a former legspinner who played 24 Tests for Australia in the 1970s, was the target of a lot of flak on social media especially after the comments about Indian names.
While the Test has featured plenty of banter between the players, the chat off the field hasn’t all been in good taste. Mitchell Marsh and Virat Kohli have been booed by the MCG crowd, and some of the spectators in the infamous Bay 13 had to be evicted after they were heard making racist chants of “show us your visa”.