‘Oh! Keeffe’ You Can Still Be Funny on Air Without Being Racist

With over four decades’ experience, O’Keeffe started his career as a commentator on ABC Radio.

3 min read
O’Keeffe is an established name in the Australian broadcasting circuit.

Australian commentator Kerry O’Keeffe has landed himself in a soup after his comments regarding the domestic cricket structure in India, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja during the ‘Boxing Day’ Test in Melbourne last week.

O’Keeffe is an established name in the Australian broadcasting circuit. With over four decades’ experience, O’Keeffe started his career as a commentator on ABC Radio. At ABC, O’Keeffe shared the mic with Indian cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle, that he didn’t forget to mention in his apology letter, where he said that his comments were misinterpreted by Indian fans.

One of the most popular cricket voices in the country, O’Keeffe retired from the commentary box after he left ABC in 2013. Three years later, he made a comeback to the airwaves with Triple M ahead of the Pakistan Tour to Australia in 2016. He was also part of the commentary panel for the Ashes in 2017.

O’Keeffe’s wit and his penchant for comedy made him popular among the Australian audiences, along with his sharp insight of cricket. Over the years, O’Keeffe has built a huge fanbase, courtesy his sharp observation, funny sporting anecdotes and tongue-and-cheek remarks about cricketers.

Not only among cricket fans, O’Keeffe enjoys a fair amount of popularity among current and former Australian cricketers. Even his distinctive laugh has been quite popular.

During his three years of exile, O’Keeffe was widely missed from the commentary box for his witty and comical commentary. At the time of his commentary stint, O’Keeffe was known for poking fun at himself and other Australian cricketers. In fact, he was so big among the Australian audience that he released a number of CDs containing short recordings of his commentating antics.

With such popularity, it was a no-brainer for FOX Sports to bring him on the commentary panel for the home series against India, especially keeping in mind that FOX bagged a seven-year deal broadcasting deal with Cricket Australia after it was held by Channel Nine for the last 40 years.

So, there might have been some pressure from the broadcaster on O’Keeffe to bring his funny self to the fore but surely not at the cost of ridiculing Indian cricket and cricketers.

O’Keeffe’s comment regarding India’s domestic cricket structure, him questioning the ability of Mayank Agarwal, or even ridiculing the name of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja, leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially when it comes from a broadcaster with an experience of over 40 years.

O’Keeffe did find some sympathisers among the Australian viewers, who have heard him crack such jokes earlier but in this scenario they too do need to realise that his comments were racist and in poor taste. What is more baffling is O’Keeffe hasn’t understood the veracity of the whole thing, and instead he felt sorry that the Indian fans misinterpreted his comments.

O’Keeffe, who made his debut for Australia in 1971 against England, played only 24 Tests till 1977, couldn’t live up to the expectation to become Australia’s next legend. But in his second stint in cricket as commentator, he did make it big and he became Australia’s one of the favourite people with the mic during a cricket match. Let’s hope a juvenile attempt to garner laughter doesn’t end his second innings as a broadcaster.

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