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Steve Smith Casts Doubt on O'Keefe Returning to Australian Team

Reuters |August 8, 2017, 11:14 AM IST
Steve Smith Casts Doubt on O'Keefe Returning to Australian Team

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 wicket-taker 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-year-old 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 (cricket.com.au).

"(Agar) has been around for a while now and it's another chance for him to have a crack in spin-friendly 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.

Uncapped 23-year-old legspinner Mitchell Swepson, who has averaged 32.82 in just 14 first class matches, is the other specialist slow bowler picked for Bangladesh with regular spinner Lyon.

"SOK (O'Keefe) bowled really well in India and he's done well in Shield cricket for a long time now, so I was actually very surprised to see him not get the nod again," Queenslander Swepson told the website.

"But that's obviously all up to the selectors."

Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
NZ
5 4 0 1 9 +1.59
2
ENG
5 4 1 0 8 +1.86
3
AUS
5 4 1 0 8 +0.81
4
IND
4 3 0 1 7 +1.02
5
BAN
5 2 2 1 5 -0.27
6
SL
5 1 2 2 4 -1.77
7
WI
5 1 3 1 3 +0.27
8
SA
6 1 4 1 3 -0.19
9
PAK
5 1 3 1 3 -1.93
10
AFG
5 0 5 0 0 -2.08

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 5720 124
2 India 5990 122
3 New Zealand 4121 114
4 South Africa 4647 111
5 Australia 4805 109
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more