Australia's Stephen O'Keefe bowls in the nets.
Australia's Stephen O'Keefe bowls in the nets. Rick Rycroft

'He's probably run his race as a Test spin bowler'

THEY may share almost the same surname, but cricket legend Kerry O'Keeffe believes Australian spinner Steve O'Keefe is dead and buried as a Test player.

Despite his record-breaking efforts on the recent tour of India, the New South Wales tweaker was not retained as a Cricket Australia contracted player.

O'Keefe seemed to have a breakthrough tour of the subcontinent, taking 12-70 in the first Test of the series, before finishing with 19 wickets for the tour.

He's since hit the headlines for another drunken incident at Cricket NSW's post-season awards night, which resulted in him being fined $20,000. Some have said that display was what prompted his removal from the contract list, but Test legend O'Keeffe told Triple M's Deadset Legends that time was up for the spinner anyway.

"At his age he's probably run his race as a Test spin bowler," O'Keeffe said.

"(The suspension had) nothing to do with it at all. They assessed him as a cricketer.

"He's not a one-trick pony, but he's a spinner for Pune and a couple of others in India, the subcontinent, Sri Lanka perhaps.

"I wouldn't take him to England, wouldn't take him to South Africa, he'll only play one Test per summer here (in Australia), his time has come."

O'Keefe wasn't the only player to be placed on the chopping block by national selectors, as much-maligned batsman Shaun Marsh was another who missed out on a contract.

"Shaun goes because they ran out of patience," O'Keeffe said. "They see him as so talented, but so frustrating."

"Injury plagued, at an age 32-33, averaging early 30s, he's not going to be great, and therefore you move him on."

Despite joking that there was only "one Marsh left to go", O'Keeffe said Shaun's brother Mitchell Marsh was one worth holding on to.

"I think Mitchell Marsh has a lot of ability, he's a winner again," O'Keeffe stated.

While O'Keeffe remained fairly circumspect about the Test hopes of O'Keefe and Shaun Marsh, he was absolutely scathing in his assessment of James Faulkner.

The Tasmanian remains a feature of Australia's one-day international and Twenty20 sides, but O'Keeffe did not miss in analysing his Test match ability.

"He was never going to be a Test player - he's a bottom-hand shoveller," O'Keeffe said.

"He's a fast bowler whose best ball is a left-arm chinaman. He bats with his hands; I couldn't take him into Test cricket.

"He'd only get a movement as a bowler if he swallowed a packet of Laxettes. I'm not unhappy with Jimmy Faulkner missing the list.

"Defending 250 with a white ball, bring him on, 1000 slower balls. If I wanted a left-arm chinaman, I'd pick Brad Hogg."

One man he was willing to defend, however, was former Test keeper Peter Nevill, who continues to be overlooked by national selectors despite his terrific response to being dropped from Australia's Test side.

Selectors continue to put faith in Victorian keeper Matthew Wade, something O'Keeffe does not understand.

"No, let's go for the unreliable venus flytrap Matthew Wade and give him a million - idiots," O'Keeffe mused.

But O'Keeffe did have a tip for selectors should they wish to eventually part company with the Victorian gloveman.

"Alex Carey from South Australia. Bats like Gilchrist, 52 catches this summer," O'Keeffe said.

"A. Carey - watch him, if Wade fumbles for the 17th time, Carey is waiting. Very good replacement."