Stephen O'Keefe of the Blues bowls during day 3 of the Sheffield Shield cricket match between New South Wales and Queensland at the SCG in Sydney, Monday, December 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Craig Golding) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY, IMAGES TO BE USED FOR NEWS REPORTING PURPOSES ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE WHATSOEVER, NO USE IN BOOKS WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM AAP
Stephen O'Keefe of the Blues bowls during day 3 of the Sheffield Shield cricket match between New South Wales and Queensland at the SCG in Sydney, Monday, December 9, 2019. (AAP Image/Craig Golding) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY, IMAGES TO BE USED FOR NEWS REPORTING PURPOSES ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE WHATSOEVER, NO USE IN BOOKS WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT FROM AAP

Why pace obsession is ruining the spin cycle

Optimistic but realistic about his own prospects of a Test recall at the SCG, veteran tweaker Steve O'Keefe wants more done to help Australia's next generation of spinners.

O'Keefe has claimed 14 wickets at 28.64 in NSW's unbeaten start to the Sheffield Shield season.

The competition's most potent spinner is hopeful of adding to his nine Tests next month, when the spin-friendly SCG hosts the final clash in the Test series between Australia and New Zealand.

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Stephen O'Keefe is realistic about his chances of playing for Australia again.
Stephen O'Keefe is realistic about his chances of playing for Australia again.

Uncapped leg spinner Mitch Swepson and Ashton Agar, who is yet to don the baggy green at home, headline the other contenders in the mix to be Nathan Lyon's spin sidekick.

The most likely outcome, as flagged by O'Keefe, is that Marnus Labuschagne's leg spin will ensure Lyon remains the sole frontline spinner in the XI for the series finale.

O'Keefe recently spoke with chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns but conversation focused on "the spinning depth in the country and how they can try and improve it", rather than his own prospects.

"If I had to push a case it would be to get more slower, tired wickets," the 35-year-old said.

"It annoys me because we have this focus on 'we want to get better against the Dukes balls' ... we'll put a bigger seam on (the Kookaburra), or we'll green the wickets up.

"When it comes to spin we expect we can dump a young kid in like Swepson or Ashton and go 'righto, win the game for Australia', but they don't get opportunities to (at domestic level)."

Swepson recently noted pace-friendly pitches weren't helping young spinners push their case.

O'Keefe, who was full of praise for the deck produced for the final Shield match at the SCG before the New Year's Test, agreed.

"They (Swepson and Agar) are probably the next two in line and extremely talented, but they won't get those opportunities if we don't provide a system that allows them to bowl lots of overs," he said.

 

Mitchell Swepson could be in line for his first Test cap in next month’s SCG Test.
Mitchell Swepson could be in line for his first Test cap in next month’s SCG Test.

O'Keefe, who famously claimed 12-70 in 2017 to deliver a landmark Test win in India, noted he still harbours aspirations to play for Australia.

"I'm realistic about those though," the left-arm tweaker said.

NSW captain Peter Nevill declared O'Keefe remained the best spinner in the country outside Lyon.

"He bowls particularly well in tandem with Nathan," Nevill said.

"Even when the conditions aren't necessarily in his favour, he's able to bowl so economically and build pressure.

"He's got so many strings to his bow."

News Corp Australia


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