Australia news March 4, 2013

O'Keefe forfeits NSW captaincy

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Steve O'Keefe has forfeited the captaincy of New South Wales in order to more vigorously pursue a place bowling left-arm spin for Australia.

Towards the end of his second summer leading the Blues whenever Michael Clarke is not available, O'Keefe volunteered to give up the job ahead of the state's final two Sheffield Shield matches, reckoning it would give him a greater chance of taking the wickets he needs to push for an international spot.

The Blues will instead by led by the batsman Ben Rohrer, who enjoyed success as interim captain last month when O'Keefe was briefly injured.

O'Keefe stated recently his disappointment at being passed over for a place in the Test squad to tour India, despite his possession of the most persuasive first-class bowling figures among all slow bowlers in the Sheffield Shield.

However apart from an eight-wicket match haul against Western Australia at Blacktown Oval recently, O'Keefe's bowling and batting returns have diminished during his time as captain, occasionally leaving selectors to ponder his best role in the NSW side.

O'Keefe's decision to abandon the captaincy also follows two years of largely barren results for NSW, and a raft of recent changes at the state association, which now has vacancies for the positions of chief executive and head coach plus a new chairman in John Warn.

Taking on the captaincy at the start of the 2011-12 season, O'Keefe was an unexpected choice to replace Simon Katich, who was keen to continue as state captain but was encouraged by the former CEO David Gilbert that the time was right for a change.

This left O'Keefe and the new coach Anthony Stuart as the inexperienced duo in charge, contributing partly to a poor summer. When results did not improve this season, Stuart was dismissed, and Gilbert and the chairman Harry Harinath have also now left.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Liquefierrrr on March 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    Good move, he was needlessly burdened with the captaincy despite other older heads being in the side.

    He's a great player and I hope he can push hard and finally get noticed. He can't do worse than Lyon and Doherty have done thus far.

    C'mon SOK, the reasons to keep you out are closing every single over that is bowled in this current series. Just focus on yourself, be a bit selfish, and bowl a LOT of overs. The rest, logic permitting from the NSP, should deal with itself.

  • Meety on March 6, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    @kimbosterelny on (March 5, 2013, 3:46 GMT) - I have seen SO'K in different formats bowl, & usually in the short forms he bowls dart-like, with some changes in pace. Only seen him in Shield on TV, & generally there wasn't much turn on offer, most of what I go on is, he can't be 30 to 40% more effective than every other spinner in Oz & not be a good Test prospect. The reason being, most Ozzy spinners given a chance at Test level over the last 5 years or so have done better in Tests than in the Shield. So if someone like Hauritz averages in the low 40s in the Shield but has a mid to high 30s average, someone like SO'K almost has to be able to ave sub-30 in Tests given his sub 30 Shield average (ALMOST certainly). I think if anything SO'K under bowled himself as a captain. Tends to happen a lot with allrounder-like captains. The only bloke who I ever saw over bowl himself was Kahlid Mahmud from Bangladesh - he averaged over 200 at one stage!

  • on March 5, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    Fight son, fight! I´m not sure why he should be made to fight quite so hard, but i´m glad he is giving it everything he has got. Who knows, maybe the selectors will actually start picking the test team on shield form one day. Seems to have worked with Bird and Henriques also looks promising after a good shield season. Probably Hughes is the only recent selection on shield form that has been a let down. But then we see so many picked with no FC form, or even games at time being picked and they are consistently letting us down. Will the NSP ever see it?

  • on March 5, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    Surely Brad Haddin for captain no?

  • kimbosterelny on March 5, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    I have only seen SOK bowl once, and he did not really turn the ball; Lyon does spin it hard. But that is a few years ago, and he may have improved. Can anyone who has seen him comment (Meety?). One issue I had with his captaincy was a conflict of interest; Smith got very little bowling this year, and with Zampa beginning to emerge, that was another potential problem; being captain put him in a false position, with rivals for a potential international spot (esp. as only one usually picked) in the same team. It is different for batting positions; there is more, and the captain has relatively little influence on how many runs another player scores; he can make a huge difference to a bowler.

    All in all a good move. I think he was unlucky that Doherty went in front of him; D is not a big spinner. I have not seen Agar, but on reports, he may push past both SOK and D (and Beer), esp. given his role in the recent big WA chase. Anyone seen him? How much does he turn it?

  • Meety on March 5, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    @bobagorof on (March 4, 2013, 12:26 GMT) - I agree. On top of that, in an important tour match in Hobart he took as many wickets in ONE innings as Doherty & Beer did in the whole Ashes. The England top 7 in that tour game was the same that did rather well (so I am told), during that summers Ashes! What annoys me is, whilst I get that sometimes it is okay to use a little bit of intuition about a player from one format & extrapolate into another format (albeit risky), SO'K has superior 20/20 stats to Doherty, yet Doherty gets the benefit of having par Short Form stats & SO'K doesn't. Yet it was 20/20 that drove the push for Doherty & then Lyon into the Test team. SO'Ks 20/20 stats match or better both those bowlers, & is comparable to Beer. So, SO'K has the best FC record of spinners in the country, he has been our 2nd best T20 spinner for Oz (Smith actually the best), has comparable BBL stats, but can't convince the NSP he can enact "massive" impact!

  • Nerk on March 5, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    SOK has been the best spin bowler in the Shield for the past couple of seasons. He is also not a bad bat. Watching him bowl at Shield level, it becomes obvious that he knows his craft well, has good control over pace and flight, and is very thoughtful tactically. If anything, he deserves a go, seeing as Lyon had a poor summer, Doherty would play better as a No.2 spinner rather than as a No.1 and Maxwell has to develop his accuracy a bit more before he can be effective against top batsmen.

  • D.V.C. on March 5, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    SOK's 1st class bowling average is 27. That's 10 better than Doherty and 13 better than Lyon or Beer! Add to that his 1st Class batting average is 30.

    Honestly I think the selectors are afraid of picking O'Keefe because he will play well enough that he couldn't be dropped when the next brilliant spinner comes along. If they keep picking unknowns then they might get lucky, but if they don't pick a winner they'll be able to drop them easily for the next one. O'Keefe would ruin that strategy.

  • ygkd on March 4, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    If O'Keefe was high in the selectors' thoughts he'd have been in India. I doubt not having the state captaincy would have made much difference.

  • blink182alex on March 4, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    I don't think SOK would be the solution to all our spin problems, but he wouldn't let the side down. For me we should stick with Lyon, he's only 24 years old and has contributed significantly in all series he has played, he is not the first spinner to have a tough time in India. But if we back him properly he can develop into a good test spinner.

    Agar looks very promising, only one of him and Beer can play for WA so someone is going to miss out. SOK is better than Doherty and Maxwell though.

  • Liquefierrrr on March 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    Good move, he was needlessly burdened with the captaincy despite other older heads being in the side.

    He's a great player and I hope he can push hard and finally get noticed. He can't do worse than Lyon and Doherty have done thus far.

    C'mon SOK, the reasons to keep you out are closing every single over that is bowled in this current series. Just focus on yourself, be a bit selfish, and bowl a LOT of overs. The rest, logic permitting from the NSP, should deal with itself.

  • Meety on March 6, 2013, 0:33 GMT

    @kimbosterelny on (March 5, 2013, 3:46 GMT) - I have seen SO'K in different formats bowl, & usually in the short forms he bowls dart-like, with some changes in pace. Only seen him in Shield on TV, & generally there wasn't much turn on offer, most of what I go on is, he can't be 30 to 40% more effective than every other spinner in Oz & not be a good Test prospect. The reason being, most Ozzy spinners given a chance at Test level over the last 5 years or so have done better in Tests than in the Shield. So if someone like Hauritz averages in the low 40s in the Shield but has a mid to high 30s average, someone like SO'K almost has to be able to ave sub-30 in Tests given his sub 30 Shield average (ALMOST certainly). I think if anything SO'K under bowled himself as a captain. Tends to happen a lot with allrounder-like captains. The only bloke who I ever saw over bowl himself was Kahlid Mahmud from Bangladesh - he averaged over 200 at one stage!

  • on March 5, 2013, 20:00 GMT

    Fight son, fight! I´m not sure why he should be made to fight quite so hard, but i´m glad he is giving it everything he has got. Who knows, maybe the selectors will actually start picking the test team on shield form one day. Seems to have worked with Bird and Henriques also looks promising after a good shield season. Probably Hughes is the only recent selection on shield form that has been a let down. But then we see so many picked with no FC form, or even games at time being picked and they are consistently letting us down. Will the NSP ever see it?

  • on March 5, 2013, 5:20 GMT

    Surely Brad Haddin for captain no?

  • kimbosterelny on March 5, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    I have only seen SOK bowl once, and he did not really turn the ball; Lyon does spin it hard. But that is a few years ago, and he may have improved. Can anyone who has seen him comment (Meety?). One issue I had with his captaincy was a conflict of interest; Smith got very little bowling this year, and with Zampa beginning to emerge, that was another potential problem; being captain put him in a false position, with rivals for a potential international spot (esp. as only one usually picked) in the same team. It is different for batting positions; there is more, and the captain has relatively little influence on how many runs another player scores; he can make a huge difference to a bowler.

    All in all a good move. I think he was unlucky that Doherty went in front of him; D is not a big spinner. I have not seen Agar, but on reports, he may push past both SOK and D (and Beer), esp. given his role in the recent big WA chase. Anyone seen him? How much does he turn it?

  • Meety on March 5, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    @bobagorof on (March 4, 2013, 12:26 GMT) - I agree. On top of that, in an important tour match in Hobart he took as many wickets in ONE innings as Doherty & Beer did in the whole Ashes. The England top 7 in that tour game was the same that did rather well (so I am told), during that summers Ashes! What annoys me is, whilst I get that sometimes it is okay to use a little bit of intuition about a player from one format & extrapolate into another format (albeit risky), SO'K has superior 20/20 stats to Doherty, yet Doherty gets the benefit of having par Short Form stats & SO'K doesn't. Yet it was 20/20 that drove the push for Doherty & then Lyon into the Test team. SO'Ks 20/20 stats match or better both those bowlers, & is comparable to Beer. So, SO'K has the best FC record of spinners in the country, he has been our 2nd best T20 spinner for Oz (Smith actually the best), has comparable BBL stats, but can't convince the NSP he can enact "massive" impact!

  • Nerk on March 5, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    SOK has been the best spin bowler in the Shield for the past couple of seasons. He is also not a bad bat. Watching him bowl at Shield level, it becomes obvious that he knows his craft well, has good control over pace and flight, and is very thoughtful tactically. If anything, he deserves a go, seeing as Lyon had a poor summer, Doherty would play better as a No.2 spinner rather than as a No.1 and Maxwell has to develop his accuracy a bit more before he can be effective against top batsmen.

  • D.V.C. on March 5, 2013, 0:24 GMT

    SOK's 1st class bowling average is 27. That's 10 better than Doherty and 13 better than Lyon or Beer! Add to that his 1st Class batting average is 30.

    Honestly I think the selectors are afraid of picking O'Keefe because he will play well enough that he couldn't be dropped when the next brilliant spinner comes along. If they keep picking unknowns then they might get lucky, but if they don't pick a winner they'll be able to drop them easily for the next one. O'Keefe would ruin that strategy.

  • ygkd on March 4, 2013, 20:59 GMT

    If O'Keefe was high in the selectors' thoughts he'd have been in India. I doubt not having the state captaincy would have made much difference.

  • blink182alex on March 4, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    I don't think SOK would be the solution to all our spin problems, but he wouldn't let the side down. For me we should stick with Lyon, he's only 24 years old and has contributed significantly in all series he has played, he is not the first spinner to have a tough time in India. But if we back him properly he can develop into a good test spinner.

    Agar looks very promising, only one of him and Beer can play for WA so someone is going to miss out. SOK is better than Doherty and Maxwell though.

  • Thefakebook on March 4, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    Good on O'Keefe he's made the right move.Now only if he switch state and move to Tasmania and kick JJ Krejza and Doherty out of the starting 11,take bundles of wickets and make it to national team while Zampa becomes the new no.1 spinner in NSW!

  • reddawn1975 on March 4, 2013, 13:37 GMT

    Yeah if the Australian selectors had half brain they would have Steven O'Keefe on a plane right now and maybe Young Ashton Agar as well and why are they not playing M Johnson it was obvious in the first test when patto was sending through the Indian batsman where not comfortable with his pace and Johnsons summer in Australia was excellent get him bowling for lord sake

  • Beertjie on March 4, 2013, 12:47 GMT

    Agree with your comments@ camcove on (March 4, 2013, 12:10 GMT). He won't make a good test spinner but as a package he's a lot better than Maxwell atm. Ahmed as a stand-in while Zampa/Boyce gain experience is the best way to go. And also Holland should play as soon as he is fit. There's no need to check form. Maxwell was picked on his batting record despite doing nothing at FC level this year. Hussey wasn't taken because he failed at FC level this year. The NSP is totally inconsistent, but since Invers talked up Dutchy, just pick him! Less mature players require more careful handling, so Agar needs more experience.

  • Mitcher on March 4, 2013, 12:35 GMT

    Got to love those who still grip their Clarke hatred so grimly. Whatever he does, whatever he achieves, these sorry little people will find a reason to spread their message of hate. Be careful what you wish for haters. An Australian side without Clarke's influence at this time extinguishes any vestige of hope that may be left. But... as long as you can satisfy your bloodlust... I guess that's all that matters. I 100% guarantee these same 'experts' would have been calling for Clarke to be dropped on the eve of his amazing run. Pathetic!!!

  • bobagorof on March 4, 2013, 12:26 GMT

    @ Dianne108: You're right, he's never takena 5-for for NSW. His 7-35 was taken against Sri Lanka A, who I would rate as some pretty good players of spin. The issue, though, is that the national side should consist of the best available players. It's hard to dispute that, despite not taking many 5-fors, O'Keefe has a better record than either Doherty or Maxwell - better average, better Strike Rate and better economy. So then it might come down to current form, in which O'Keefe still wins - taking 8 wickets in the match just before the squad was announced, and 17 wickets in the season compared with Doherty's 2 and Maxwell's 7.

  • camcove on March 4, 2013, 12:10 GMT

    Good statistics and a very handy cricketer. I hope I'm wrong but I don't think SOK looks like a Test spinner, though. From what I have seen of them both, picking Doherty in the squad ahead of him wasn't a bad call. The word is that Beer would have been picked if fit. Holland is still the number 1 left arm orthodox in the country, assuming he makes a successful recovery from his shoulder problems. Agar looks to have the weapons at his disposal to have the potential to be a Test success. It would be nice to see young leggies such as Boyce and Zampa encouraged. Ahmed is 33 but could provide some years of service if he makes the side. (Bob Holland was 40 odd and playing for Australia, as I recall). I still think Lyon could be a fine offie if developed properly. Why did Arthur refer to technical issues, instead of saying he was rested? Not a good message.

  • PFEL on March 4, 2013, 11:48 GMT

    He should have been in the side for the last 5 years

  • Meety on March 4, 2013, 10:05 GMT

    @Chris_P on (March 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT) - As far as Arthurs is concerned, SO'K is behind Beer on the pecking order, so I don't think anything SO'K has done (including actually taking wickets) would of made much difference. Some goose(s) seem to think it is Clarke's fault!

  • zenboomerang on March 4, 2013, 10:01 GMT

    @Liquefierrrr... You & I know he is only 28 but the selectors have continually gone repeatedly for kids - its about time the NSP looked at seriously experienced FC cricketers that have done the hard yards - O'Keefe, Bailey, Voges, Butterworth should be in Test consideration for Eng + Doolan & possibly Hartley as back-up keeper...

  • Brusterg on March 4, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Is Glenn Maxwell the worst player ever to play test cricket and how was he picked in the first place , Steven O'Keefe should be in India instead of this grade cricketer and Watson if he can not bowl clearly is not up to test standard as a stand alone batsman

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 4, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Just make sure that O'Keefe is brought in slowly, not just suddenly thrust into an Indian tour, but eased in against weak players of spin like West Indies, South Africa and England.

  • on March 4, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    I get sick of people talking up Clark as the man behind Katich's demise @zenboomerang. Those in the know, realise that Ricky Ponting was the one who had problems with katich but the younger guys just couldn't connect with Katich, a brooding sort og bloke.

  • VivGilchrist on March 4, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    I don't understand why he is not in India. Mickey Mouse Arthur cant actually answer the question either, as he just changes the subject when asked. In fact nobody can. He would have fit the bill. He would have batted at 8, spins the ball the other way to Lyon, and has the best record for an Australian spin bowler. It does not make sense. We are getting spanked over there!

  • Dianne108 on March 4, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    In order to be considered for test cricket it is a requirement for a spinner to be able to turn the ball in all conditions. Our spinners in India cannot do this nor can O'keefe. He has never taken a 5 wicket haul for NSW which tells us something. Don't be fooled by O'keefe's decision today to stand down as captain for his own good. Maybe just maybe his record as captain had something to do with it or maybe he just lost respect in certain areas.

  • Liquefierrrr on March 4, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    @zenboomerang - he's only 28 years old mate, Hussey grafted a hugely impactful and successful career starting at age 31. Plenty of time.

    I think Agar, Turner, Zampa and Ahmed need some proper development (especially the first 3 as they are all about 20 years old), some regular exposure to FC cricket (in Aus, then in County, then in India against FC teams).

    Imagine those 3 in 3 years having played 75+ FC games each. They can all bowl and are all capable batsmen.

    But relative to SOK, surely this increasingly disastrous India tour is moving his name further and further up the list.

  • cccrider on March 4, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    For whatever reason, as long as Lord Clarke is in charge, O'Keefe has 2 chances at test cricket. I would love to see Hauritz and him in India atm. But its not going to happen with Admiral Pup running the show.

  • zenboomerang on March 4, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Guess he was the fall guy after they axed Katich - Clarkes final revenge... Maybe Haddin could have been given a 2 or 3 year contract & given the Capt job - it surely would be the best fit for NSW otherwise he may be lost...

    O'Keefes window of opportunities are narrowing for Test selection, but with Hauritz are the best 2 spinners in Oz in Shield (even including the Test guys)... If he isn't picked along with Butterworth for Eng tour the selectors will have shown that they are completely biased in all their selections...

  • Chris_P on March 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    His unselfish actions probably cost him a place in the touring team. He is the ultimate team man & I look forward to his increased workload.

  • on March 4, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    The fact that Steve O'Keefe hasn't yet played test cricket shows that as much as the argus review helped a little but the new selectors to not have picked O'Keefe already shows how blind the too are being, his stats speak for themselves and no more time should be taken to get him in the test side. For years now he's been concistant so please selectors be concistant yourself and pick the players everyone else but you can see and start picking the players with the stats that show they are number 1 in this country, PLEASE.

  • on March 4, 2013, 3:44 GMT

    The fact that Steve O'Keefe hasn't yet played test cricket shows that as much as the argus review helped a little but the new selectors to not have picked O'Keefe already shows how blind the too are being, his stats speak for themselves and no more time should be taken to get him in the test side. For years now he's been concistant so please selectors be concistant yourself and pick the players everyone else but you can see and start picking the players with the stats that show they are number 1 in this country, PLEASE.

  • Chris_P on March 4, 2013, 3:51 GMT

    His unselfish actions probably cost him a place in the touring team. He is the ultimate team man & I look forward to his increased workload.

  • zenboomerang on March 4, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    Guess he was the fall guy after they axed Katich - Clarkes final revenge... Maybe Haddin could have been given a 2 or 3 year contract & given the Capt job - it surely would be the best fit for NSW otherwise he may be lost...

    O'Keefes window of opportunities are narrowing for Test selection, but with Hauritz are the best 2 spinners in Oz in Shield (even including the Test guys)... If he isn't picked along with Butterworth for Eng tour the selectors will have shown that they are completely biased in all their selections...

  • cccrider on March 4, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    For whatever reason, as long as Lord Clarke is in charge, O'Keefe has 2 chances at test cricket. I would love to see Hauritz and him in India atm. But its not going to happen with Admiral Pup running the show.

  • Liquefierrrr on March 4, 2013, 6:14 GMT

    @zenboomerang - he's only 28 years old mate, Hussey grafted a hugely impactful and successful career starting at age 31. Plenty of time.

    I think Agar, Turner, Zampa and Ahmed need some proper development (especially the first 3 as they are all about 20 years old), some regular exposure to FC cricket (in Aus, then in County, then in India against FC teams).

    Imagine those 3 in 3 years having played 75+ FC games each. They can all bowl and are all capable batsmen.

    But relative to SOK, surely this increasingly disastrous India tour is moving his name further and further up the list.

  • Dianne108 on March 4, 2013, 6:33 GMT

    In order to be considered for test cricket it is a requirement for a spinner to be able to turn the ball in all conditions. Our spinners in India cannot do this nor can O'keefe. He has never taken a 5 wicket haul for NSW which tells us something. Don't be fooled by O'keefe's decision today to stand down as captain for his own good. Maybe just maybe his record as captain had something to do with it or maybe he just lost respect in certain areas.

  • VivGilchrist on March 4, 2013, 7:09 GMT

    I don't understand why he is not in India. Mickey Mouse Arthur cant actually answer the question either, as he just changes the subject when asked. In fact nobody can. He would have fit the bill. He would have batted at 8, spins the ball the other way to Lyon, and has the best record for an Australian spin bowler. It does not make sense. We are getting spanked over there!

  • on March 4, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    I get sick of people talking up Clark as the man behind Katich's demise @zenboomerang. Those in the know, realise that Ricky Ponting was the one who had problems with katich but the younger guys just couldn't connect with Katich, a brooding sort og bloke.

  • Ozcricketwriter on March 4, 2013, 7:21 GMT

    Just make sure that O'Keefe is brought in slowly, not just suddenly thrust into an Indian tour, but eased in against weak players of spin like West Indies, South Africa and England.

  • Brusterg on March 4, 2013, 7:50 GMT

    Is Glenn Maxwell the worst player ever to play test cricket and how was he picked in the first place , Steven O'Keefe should be in India instead of this grade cricketer and Watson if he can not bowl clearly is not up to test standard as a stand alone batsman