O'Keefe banned, fined for offensive outburst
Steve O'Keefe has been banned from this year's domestic limited-overs competition by New South Wales and fined $20,000 by Cricket Australia for making highly offensive comments while intoxicated at the after-party following the Steve Waugh Medal presentation.
In what was his second alcohol-related offence in the past nine months - he was fined $10,000 and handed an infringement notice by NSW Police for an incident at a Sydney pub last year after returning home injured from the Test tour of Sri Lanka - O'Keefe is believed to have made a string of offensive remarks after the awards ceremony, which was held at the Hilton Hotel in Sydney on Saturday night.
Having performed so well for Australia on the recent tour of India, O'Keefe now finds himself on exceedingly thin ice with both his state and the national team. O'Keefe said he would seek specialist counselling in the wake of the episode.
"At an official Cricket NSW function I became intoxicated and made highly inappropriate comments. There is no excuse for this and I take full responsibility and offer an unconditional apology," O'Keefe said in a statement. "I accept the sanctions imposed by Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW and welcome the chance to receive specialist counselling.
"I have a big challenge ahead and I am determined to meet it with actions, not just words. To all of the members of the cricket family I love and respect so much, again, apologies for letting you down."
Senior officials from both Cricket NSW and CA were furious at O'Keefe's behaviour, particularly after he worked assiduously and well to prepare himself for the India tour, where he was among Australia's most accomplished performers.
"Stephen has not upheld the standards expected of a NSW and Australian cricketer in the aftermath of the India tour where he proudly represented his state and country," NSW chief executive Andrew Jones said. "As this is his second recent offence we believe a strong penalty is appropriate. At Cricket NSW, we want all our people to achieve their potential on and off the field and Stephen needs to refocus himself on that task."
Pat Howard, the CA team performance manager, said the incident overshadowed what had been a most productive season for O'Keefe. "There is no time or place for unacceptable behaviour from any of our players in Australian Cricket, and we continue to take a zero-tolerance approach to this," he said.
"We're extremely disappointed this situation occurred, particularly on the back of a previous incident, and it now overshadows Stephen's on field performance on the recent tour of India."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig