John Hastings questions Steve O’Keefe’s comeback
O'Keefe was the star performer in Australia's famous Test win in Pune earlier in the year.
Updated - Sep 6, 2017 1:30 pm
John Hastings and Steve O’Keefe might be best of friends off the field but the former has questioned the left-arm spinner’s surprising come back into the Test fold. An injury to Josh Hazlewood prompted the Australian selectors to recall O’Keefe into the side despite the fact that the 32-year old was suspended by his state for an alcohol related incident.
Hastings bat for fellow Bushranger
But a shocking defeat in the first Test forced the selectors to bring back O’Keefe, who had match figures of 12/70 in the historic win at Pune earlier this year. Following the fine showings, the left-arm spinner made highly inappropriate and offensive statements during a Cricket New South Wales award function. He was subsequently banned from the Matador Cup and is currently serving a ban. Hastings believes that his state mate Jon Holland deserved the chance more than O’Keefe, who was Hastings’ best man at his wedding.
“I really feel for Dutchy. Steve O’Keefe was best man at my wedding so I’m rapt for him but he by all rights he probably doesn’t deserve to be there,” Hastings said.
“He’s suspended by NSW cricket and he’s over playing for Australia. It’s an interesting one that one.”
Holland has been in impressive form, picking 50 wickets at 20.78 in last year’s Sheffield Shield but is still ignored by the national selectors. The Bushranger was handed a Test debut during Australia’s disastrous tour of Sri Lanka where Holland could pick just 5 wickets at 54.80 after playing 2 Tests. He hasn’t given another go yet by the wise men.
“I don’t think Jon Holland can do any more than what he has done over the last few years,” Hastings said on RSN radio.
“Last year he was prolific for the Bushrangers. He went up to Darwin got four or five for one in a spell.
“I honestly don’t know what the selectors could be saying to him, if anything. It’s just unbelievable.”
Hastings also pointed out that O’Keefe, who was himself shocked at his selection, hasn’t played any cricket since Australia’s last Test in Dharamsala in March which, again, makes no sense. He has no game time behind him and will struggle to find his rhythm. The New South Wales cricketer returned with figures of 0/79 off 23 overs in the first innings, vindicating Hastings claims.
“That’s exactly right, he’s coming in with no game time, it’s a massive ask for someone to come in with little to no preparation in matches,” Hastings said.
“That time in the middle is absolute gold dust. If I was him I’d be going “My skills are good enough to go out and execute what I want to do”, but you’d have to be thinking “geez, I’m going in here a little bit cold.”
It will be interesting to see how O’Keefe goes about his business in the second essay. He will feel a lot better after picking his first wicket.