Our first-class cricket is amazing: Kohli’s subtle response to O’Keefe

‘Credit must go to first-class set-up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad.’

Virat Kohli attributed emergence of Jasprit Bumrah as a lethal pacer to India’s ‘amazing domestic structure’ in a subtle yet classy response to the uncharitable on-air comments made by former Australian cricketers Kerry O’Keefe and Mark Waugh.

“Our first-class cricket is amazing, which is why we won. Credit must go to first-class set-up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad,” the Indian captain said on Sunday, without taking names, after India beat Australia by 137 runs in the third Test to take a 2-1 series lead.

But it was clear that Kohli’s comments were meant for former Australia leg-spinner O’Keefe.

Even, man of the match Bumrah, who claimed a match haul of nine for 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 after the victory.

It all started on the first day of the match when O’Keefe, a mediocre leg-spinner, with modest record of 53 wickets in 24 Tests, made a crass comment about debutant Mayank Agarwal’s first-class triple-hundred against Railways.

“Apparently, he got the triple (ton) against the Railways canteen staff,” O’Keefe said while commentating for Fox Sports while Mark Waugh spoke about how a domestic average of 50 in India will be 40 in Australia.

O’Keefe later apologised for his unsavoury comment.

“I was mentioning the runs Agarwal got in first class cricket in India and there has been a reaction. 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,” he said.

It was India coach Ravi Shastri, not the one to pull back punches, rubbed it in after Agarwal scored 76 on his debut.

“He (Mayank) has got a message for Kerry… ‘when you do open your canteen, he wants to come and smell the coffee. He wants to compare it to the ones back in India…coffee here is better or the ones back home’,” Shastri commented during an interview with Fox Sports, with O’Keefe also on air at that point of time.


However, O’Keefe was at it again on the fourth day when he again made fun of not being able to pronounce the first names of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja.

“Why would you name your kid Cheteshwar or Jadeja,” O’Keefe commented.

Earlier, India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun on Saturday had made it clear that the team wasn’t happy with these kind of comments.

“Yes, it does hurt you but when people make those remarks, there is nothing you can do about it. It’s beyond your control. If you can channelise that hurt towards doing better on the field that answers all the questions,” Arun had said.

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