Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket was a huge revolution to this sport, which introduced colored clothing, white-ball cricket and various other facets which currently are a significant part of the game. Another facet on which a lot of emphasis was being placed on those days was quality commentary, as they saw this as a major tool to attract the television audience.
In the last three or four decades, we have seen some iconic personalities take the mic and pull off some outstanding commentary spells like Tony Greig, Richie Benaud, Tony Cozier, Bill Lawry, Ravi Shastri, Harsha Bhogle, Mark Nicholas, Ian Bishop and many more.
They definitely did a fantastic job in keeping the fans engaged to the game, but there were some instances when the commentators did lose their minds a little bit. Here are five instances when the commentators got carried away a wee-bit and fell in an unwanted controversial pit.
1. Dean Jones
Dean Jones. (Photo by Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Perhaps the most controversial statement which came ever from an on-air commentator has to be this one from Dean Jones. The former Aussie cricketer is usually a highly respected personality in the fraternity, but his remarks on Hashim Amla during an Australia-South Africa series dented his reputation big time.
This happened during the 2006 Test series where Hashim Amla took a catch in the slips and Jones said “The terrorist has picked up another wicket”. Media houses from various countries came down very harsh on this and went on to criticize the commentator for this quite badly. He was also sacked by Supersport and Channel 9 for the remark.
Jones later came out and apologized to the media for these unpardonable remarks and expressed his respect for the Muslim community. He also termed his comment “Silly, stupid and completely insensitive thing to say” and apologized to Hashim Amla for what he had said.
2. Kerry O’Keefe
Kerry O’Keeffe. (Photo Source: Twitter)
One of the most recent and one which most fans are well aware of, Kerry O’Keefe passed on some comments on debutant Mayank Agarwal during the 3rd Test between India and Australia earlier this year. The comments sparked a huge row on social media, which forced the veteran commentator to write a formal apology to the Indian fans.
He said some very harsh comments on Agarwal’s triple ton he scored in Ranji cricket and he also asked his fellow commentator if he scored that triple against a canteen staff. His derogatory remarks belittling the quality of Ranji cricket fumed the Indian supporters, which eventually led to him trending on all social media platforms.
“Apparently [Mayank Agarwal] got his triple-century against Jalandar Railways canteen staff,” O’Keeffe guffawed. “Who opened the bowling for them that day? The chef. First change? The kitchen hand. And they’ve got the spinner as well, the casual uni student,” He said.
3. Michael Vaughan
Michael Vaughan. (Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images for PCA)
During the Test series between India and England in 2011, VVS Laxman survived a DRS scare where the ball was very close to picking an outside edge. The snicko couldn’t determine if there was an edge or not, but the commentators in the press box were pretty certain there was something in it.
Michael Vaughan, the former English skipper, passed on a very sarcastic comment, suggesting that VVS Laxman had applied Vaseline on his bat which isn’t allowing the snicko to read the edge. While the comment was taken jovially by a few, it sparked a huge row in the Indian media and a lot of experts lashed out Vaughan for questioning the integrity of one Indian cricket’s most iconic persons.
When Laxman was asked to react about this in the post-match conference, he said that the comment was pretty ridiculous and he would never do anything like that against the spirit of the game. Not often we see Laxman lose his cool, but he slightly did while answering this question that day.
4. Michael Holding
Michael Holding. (Photo Source: Twitter)
During the ICC World Cup 2019 group stage game between Australia and West Indies at the Trent Bridge, Michael Holding came out very harshly on some of the umpiring decisions that happened on the day. Ruchira Palliyaguruge and Chris Gaffaney were the officials on the day, who did make some silly errors, which cost Windies the game.
Mitchell Starc had overstepped the ball prior to the dismissal of Chris Gayle, which the umpires failed to notice. After watching another few errors from the on-field officials, Michael Holding went on to criticize the umpiring further and also compared the situation to how FIFA doesn’t back poor refereeing by sacking referees with a higher mistake rate.
While his comments did make a lot of sense and the ICC should work towards the improvement of umpiring quality, he found some harsh criticism which suggested that’s not the way he should’ve spoken on-air.
5. Nasser Hussain
Nasser Hussain. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
During the only T20I game India played on their tour of England in 2011, the Indian fielding on the day was a bit sloppy. Parthiv Patel was taking care of the duties behind the sticks and he dropped a catch which most of them expect keepers to take comfortably and that drew a lot of criticism from the on-air commentators.
But former English captain Nasser Hussain had a very controversial comment to pass on, which later led to a lot of criticism. He ridiculed the Indian fielding on the day and reiterated a fact that they weren’t playing like world champions. He also used the term “Donkey” to describe the fielding effort from the men in blue.
“India have three or four very good fielders and one or two donkeys in the field still,” he said on air. This sparked a huge row in the Indian media, who went lashed out hard at the “Unprofessional remarks” made by the very reputed commentator. He also got into an on-air tussle a few days later with Ravi Shastri regarding India not accepting Decision Review System.
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