Former Australia cricketer and now a broadcaster, Kerry O'Keeffe, has apologised after his "tongue-in-cheek" derision of Indian debutant Mayank Agarwal earned him online flak on Wednesday.
O'Keeffe took a jibe at India's debutant Mayank Agarwal’s top score of 304* in first-class cricket during the opening day of the Boxing Day Test between Australia and India in Melbourne on Wednesday.
While commentating for Fox Sports, O'Keeffe stated that Agarwal's triple hundred in came against "canteen staff and waiters."
Opening batsman Agarwal slammed a maiden Test half-century — a solid and vital 76 — before he fell off Pat Cummins' bowling.
O'Keeffe's remark tickled a raw nerve. The audio or video clip of the comment isn't available but multiple reactions calling out the barb created noticeable buzz on Twitter.
Well-known cricket journalist Melinda Farrell too noted the dig and said that it was "pretty uncool to ridicule the FC competition of another country".
It might just be me, but it's pretty uncool to ridicule the FC comp of another country while using dubious stereotypes for a cheap laugh...
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) December 26, 2018
Former cricketer Mark Waugh, who was O'Keeffe's co-commentator during the time he passed the statement, said that Agarwal’s first-class average of over 50 is like 40 in Australia, which was also not well received.
Mayank Agarwal has given a fitting reply to him and Kerry O Keefe who were ridiculing Indian domestic circuit as consisting of "Canteen XIs". They tried to undermine Agarwal's credentials too. More than Waugh, it was O Keefe who was offensive & borderline racist #AUSvsIND https://t.co/dVywAAA9eG — Navneet Mundhra (@navneet_mundhra) December 26, 2018
A user reasoned India's success in Test cricket to its robust first-class system in place.
Well the Ranji Trophy is working, because we are no. 1 in test cricket.
— Anubhav (@AnubhavMondal96) December 26, 2018
While another user called for more sterner action to be taken by the broadcasters.
Kerry O’Keeffe can be insightful when he’s not playing the village idiot. But if he did make the alleged comments about “canteen staff and waiters” then he should be fired. Totally unacceptable. — Kevin Framp (@BigKev67) December 26, 2018
Later in the day, O’Keeffe sought to clear the air for his comments. As reported in news.com.au, he said “I was mentioning the runs Agarwal got in first-class cricket in India and there’s been a reaction,” he said. “There was no way I was demeaning the standard, it was tongue in cheek. There are lots of runs scored so apologies if anyone out there took offence.”
Waugh, too offered a clarification while replying to a user on Twitter.
All I said was averaging 50 in first class cricket in India is equivalent to averaging 40 in Aust mainly because of the number of players who achieve that. For the record Agarwal played very well in his 1st test innings.
— Mark Waugh (@juniorwaugh349) December 26, 2018
India ended the opening day of Melbourne Test at 215/2.