Australian cricketer Steve O’Keefe has retired from first class cricket after New South Wales axed the veteran spin bowler.
O’Keefe was the highest wicket-taker for spin bowlers in the 2019/2020 Sheffield Shield, guiding the Blues to their 47th title – he claimed 16 wickets at 22.25 in five matches. On pitches that undeniably suit pace bowlers, he remained a threat with ball in hand, his record considerably stronger than his rivals in Australian conditions.
Despite being the competition’s standout tweaker, New South Wales decided not to offer O’Keefe a contract for the 2020/21 season.
“I was disappointed when I was told that I wasn't getting a contract, but I respect and accept the decision, so I have decided to retire from first class cricket,” O’Keefe said in a statement.
“It's been such a privilege to play for my country and captain my state, but above everything else, I'm most proud to have played alongside some of the best blokes I’ve ever met.
“When I think about my time playing cricket, that’s what I’ll miss most.”
MOST WICKETS FOR SPIN BOWLERS IN 2019/20 SHEFFIELD SHIELD
Steve O’Keefe (NSW) – 16 wickets at 22.25
Nathan Lyon (NSW) – 15 wickets at 37.46
Mitchell Swepson (QLD) – 14 wickets at 31.50
Beau Webster (TAS) – 8 wickets at 32.12
Jon Holland (VIC) – 8 wickets at 59.25
Steve O’Keefe will continue to represent the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash LeagueSource:AAP
Steve O’Keefe was a Sheffield Shield superstar. Outstanding career.
Blues teammate and Channel 7 presenter Trent Copeland tweeted, “One of the best finger spinners to ever play the game in this great state. Congratulations SOK.”
O’Keefe will continue to play for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash League, where he has won two premierships with the men in pink. He has taken 48 BBL wickets since making his debut in 2012, the most for any Sixers spin bowler in history.
The 35-year-old played 88 first class matches since making his debut for the Blues in 2005 – teammate Matthew Gilkes was a six-year-old when O’Keefe received his maiden cap. He claimed 224 wickets in the Sheffield Shield, the fifth most of any spin bowler for New South Wales. O’Keefe also captained the Blues between 2011 and 2013.
“Steve has been a committed and consistent performer for the Blues over a long period,” said Cricket NSW CEO Lee Germon.
“He is one of the most successful spinners ever to play for NSW, which earned him Australian selection and the captaincy of the Blues.
“On behalf of Cricket NSW, I'd like to thank Steve for his great service to NSW and Australian cricket and look forward to him continuing his career with Manly and the Sixers.”
MOST WICKETS FOR NSW SPIN BOWLERS IN THE SHEFFIELD SHIELD
Greg Matthews – 363 wickets at 28.97
Stuart MacGill – 328 wickets at 34.26
Richie Benaud – 266 wickets at 26.96
Johnny Martin – 263 wickets at 30.22
Steve O’Keefe – 224 wickets at 25.01
Steve O’Keefe celebrates after the dismissal of India’s captain Virat Kohli in Pune.Source:AFP
The Blues squad currently features no other established strike spin bowlers apart from Nathan Lyon, who is regularly unavailable due to international duties.
O’Keefe played nine Test matches for Australia, often pairing with international stalwart Lyon in the subcontinent. His career highlight came at Pune in 2017, when the left-armer claimed match figures of 12/70, guiding Australia to their first Test victory in India since 2004.
He also played seven T20 internationals for Australian, the most recent of which in 2011 against South Africa in Johannesburg.
BEST MATCH FIGURES BY AN AUSTRALIAN BOWLER IN INDIA
Steve O’Keefe – 12/60 at Pune (2017)
Alan Davidson – 12/124 at Kanpur (1959)
Geoff Dymock – 12/166 at Panpur (1979)
Jason Krejza – 12/358 at Nagpur (2008)
Richie Benaud – 11/105 at Kolkata (1956)
8-fa! To celebrate Steve O'Keefe's superb first-class career, re-live his career-best bowling performance against the Vics two years ago pic.twitter.com/XGHD7D3uam
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