New South Wales spinner Steve O’Keefe hopes another strong domestic summer will see him remain the national selectors’ next choice behind Test tweaker Nathan Lyon.
The 30-year-old was selected as Australia’s second spinner for the now-postponed Bangladesh tour, but has his sights set on next year’s tour of Sri Lanka as a potential next opportunity to pull on the Baggy Green.
Making his Test debut against Pakistan in October last year, O'Keefe was Australia's incumbent back-up spinner to Lyon and took 28 Sheffield Shield wickets for the NSW Blues last summer.
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While Fawad Ahmed's breakout season for Victoria meant he missed a place in the Test squads for the Caribbean and the Ashes, O'Keefe starred for Australia A on the subcontinent during the winter, with that form ultimately leading to the left-armer being picked ahead of Fawad in Australia's squad for Bangladesh.
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While the postponement means he is now plying his trade for New South Wales in the Matador BBQs One-Day Cup this month, O’Keefe has re-focused his attention on maintaining his place as Australia’s go-to second spinner.
"That’s where I’m hoping to come in," O’Keefe told Big Sports Breakfast.
"I was picked as the second spinner for Bangladesh.
"(Next year) with the tour to Sri Lanka, I’d like to think that after a good first class season I’ll still be that second spinner.
"Fingers crossed I get that opportunity again.
"Even if I don’t perform and if things don’t go well, at least I can say I got that opportunity."
O’Keefe has taken three wickets in the Blues’ two comprehensive Matador Cup victories to date, and said he was enjoying the opportunity to bowl alongside Lyon.
"I think one of the privileged things I get to do is play with Nathan Lyon," O’Keefe said.
"He’s earned his spot as the number one spinner in Australia and he’s great fellow who’s passed on a lot of his knowledge."
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With more than 50 first class matches under his belt, O’Keefe believes he is getting better with age and experience.
"It comes down to more bowling. That’s the thing Nathan does as well," he said.
"The more you bowl, the more experience you have and the better you get, especially with spin bowling.
"I’m 30 years old now with over 50 first class matches and I’ve had small success over in India A over in different conditions.
"That builds confidence and belief and they’re really powerful tools as a cricketer.
"Right now I’m buzzing. I want to keep playing and I want to produce the goods if that opportunity to wear the Baggy Green comes along again."
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In the short term, O’Keefe is looking forward to tackling the Alcohol.Think Again Western Warriors in Blacktown on Saturday in a replay of last year’s Matador Cup final.
"For us it’s a big game against a team that seems to have the wood over us in all the big games.
"They have a couple of guys who have scored centuries in their last game and they’re going to be extremely competitive.
"But we’ve flying at the moment, yesterday we weren’t even close to our best (against South Australia) but we still came away with a double bonus point."