Aus­tralia cap­tain cool on O’Keefe’s hopes of re­call

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MEL­BOURNE: Aus­tralia cap­tain Steve Smith has cast doubt on Steve O’Keefe’s chances of break­ing back into the Test side as se­lec­tors look to develop younger spin­ners on the tour of Bangladesh.

O’Keefe, with 19 wick­ets, was Aus­tralia’s joint high­est wick­et­taker with Nathan Lyon in the four-match se­ries against In­dia but the 32-year-old was left out of the Bangladesh tour, which starts with the First Test in Mir­pur on Aug 27.

The left-arm spin­ner’s omis­sion came two months af­ter he was sanc­tioned for a drunken in­ci­dent at a Syd­ney func­tion in April, his sec­ond al­co­hol-fu­elled breach in 12 months, and he was also ex­cluded from the list of na­tion­ally con­tracted play­ers.

Smith said O’Keefe was over­looked for purely cricket rea­sons with se­lec­tors keen to give 23-yearold left-armer Ash­ton Agar an­other chance with a view to re­turn­ing to In­dia in four years’ time.

Smith said Agar would get the chance to im­press in Bangladesh.

“Now is prob­a­bly a chance to move on to some­one else and Ash­ton Agar’s go­ing to get his op­por­tu­nity,” Smith told Cricket Aus­tralia’s web­site (

“(Agar) has been around for a while now and it’s an­other chance for him to have a crack in spin­friendly con­di­tions and hope­fully he can go re­ally well for us.

“I have (spo­ken to O’Keefe) and he was dis­ap­pointed, which is fair enough. He un­der­stands where we’re head­ing.

“He’s get­ting a bit older now and our next tour back to In­dia is in four years’ time and we’ve got to find the right group of guys that are go­ing to be there for that se­ries.”

With Sri Lankan left-arm spin­ner Ran­gana Herath still go­ing strong at the age of 39 and New Zealand off­spin­ner Jee­tan Pa­tel only re­cently re­tir­ing from in­ter­na­tional cricket at 37, O’Keefe might have some rea­son to feel ag­grieved.

Hav­ing av­er­aged 27.30 from his eight Tests, O’Keefe also boasts a su­pe­rior first class record to Agar, av­er­ag­ing 23.77 com­pared to the two-Test spin­ner’s 40.24. Reuters

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