Finally we get the chance to congratulate Stephen O’Keefe on his selection in the touring squad for the two test series v Pakistan in the UAE. Given the massive role he has played in the resurgence of NSW cricket over the past couple of years the selectors have finally seen the light and included SOK into the test team calculations.
SOK has had every reason to be disappointed by his continued snub, especially the last tour to India where the selectors somehow thought Xavier D’Oherty was going to have an impact, but he has battled on, continued to learn his craft and is now the premier left handed orthodox spin bowler in the country.
Some could argue that SOK’s style – his relentless accuracy, making the batsmen play at everything and working on their patience whilst cleverly mixing up his deliveries was not what the public wanted. The selectors seemed to want a big ripping leggie that would bowl sides out late in the game but this person has not materialised since Warnie’s retirement. Instead they have run through a whole heap of spinners not really settling on any. Lyon somehow escaped the boning and has hung in there well. We expect SOK, especially with the added bonus of his batting, to play a big immediate role and an influential long term role with the test team over the next few years.
SOK will be the number two spinner in the UAE behind Nathan Lyon, but when he is given the chance he will get to show everyone why he was the leading bowler in Shield cricket last season. The pitches in the UAE will be spin friendly and he should be almost guaranteed a spot in the starting 11.
SOK hasn’t had much of a hit with Manly over the past few years and in total he has taken 60 wickets at 19.8 and 812 runs at 31.2 for the Waratahs. His 1st class stats continue to shine and to date has taken 126 wickets at 24.5 and scored 1280 runs at 27.8.
SOK has previously represented Australia in 2010 in a T20 series v Pakistan in England and performed well. He duly won a contract with the Kochi Tuskers in the IPL and has had a big influence for the Sydney Sixers.
The whole Manly community is proud to see SOK hitting the big time and we have no doubt that he will have an impact in the UAE that will ensure he will get a start for years to come.