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August 1, 2011
Australia's most statistically accomplished spin bowler, Steve O'Keefe, is intent on pressing his case for limited overs and Test match consideration during the tourists' two Twenty20 matches against Sri Lanka.
In 14 first-class matches, O'Keefe has winkled out 52 wickets at 24.05, yet has been ignored by the national selectors for all but the briefest of formats, in which he took 3-29 on his debut against Pakistan last year.
The selection of Nathan Lyon and Michael Beer has been considered by some to be a slight on O'Keefe, but he preferred to view it as a sign that in selection terms, anything was now possible.
"Definitely. I think every time you play, it's a bit of an audition, isn't it?," O'Keefe told AAP in Colombo. "Sometimes, if you do well in any sort of form for Australia, it can translate in all sorts of forms so, any time you get to wear [Australian colours], you're on show."
O'Keefe has watched Lyon bowl, and said the South Australian-based off spinner had all the attributes of a classical slow bowler.
"He's a beautiful bowler when you watch him go," O'Keefe said. "He gets it up and over and one of the best natural spinners I've seen around in the country for a long time. He's got a good head on his shoulders which I think will serve him in good stead if he gets his opportunity to play."
While O'Keefe's time in Sri Lanka will be short, the time spent training ahead of Saturday's first T20 match against the Sri Lankans will be enthusiastically undertaken by one of the more personable cricketers in Australia.
"It's changing times that you come away and you're here for two weeks for these games that go for three hours but, in saying that, the intensity of training is quite tough," O'Keefe said. "The training that we did today for fielding, it doesn't get much tougher and I think you can definitely take your skills up a notch by working around these guys.
"There's a lot of benefits besides the two games. You get to surround yourself with the best players in the world and play up to their level. It's a great forum to showcase your skills."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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