JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Veterans return for Shield showdown
Victoria recall Cameron White while NSW bring back Steve O'Keefe and Peter Nevill for title 2018-19 title decider
25 March 2019, 03:37 PM AEST
New South Wales have received a timely boost for this week's JLT Sheffield Shield final, with spinner Stephen O'Keefe and Peter Nevill returning to the Blues' ranks for the decider against Victoria.
O'Keefe has recovered from the slight hamstring strain that sidelined him from last week's match against Tasmania in Hobart, with the left-arm tweaker named in the Blues' 13-player squad alongside captain Nevill, who missed the match at Blundstone Arena due to the birth of his first child.
Nevill will take back the gloves from Baxter Holt, who claimed a record nine catches on debut in the 149-run win over Tasmania, while quick Liam Hatcher is the other omission.
O'Keefe said on Monday he was fully fit to retake his place in the NSW XI for the match at Junction Oval.
"I would have been touch and go for the last game but body's feeling great, I'm in good hands with Dan Redrup and the (strength and conditioning staff), so I'm ready to go," O'Keefe said.
"I did have a tear to my hamstring and if I'd tried to push through that game (in Hobart) and made it worse, or didn't give it the right type of healing, then that would have put this game in doubt.
"As it was, it was pretty green down there and I wouldn't have gotten much of a bowl anyway, the guys did a great job town in Tassie so looking back it's been a good decision."
O'Keefe also revealed that although he expected this Shield season to be his last, his form for the Sydney Sixers through the KFC BBL, and his returns in the Shield – which have been him pick up 19 wickets at 26.26 in six matches – have him eyeing one more year.
"I reckon if you'd asked me three or four months ago, I probably would have said that this would have been it," he said.
"The way that I got through the Big Bash I probably surprised myself being able to get through 14 or 15 straight games there.
"I think a couple of the younger guys that we've picked in the Blues team, Jack Edwards and Jason Sangha, that sort of stuff encourages you to keep playing a little bit longer."
But the news isn't as good for Victoria, who have been forced to make a change as they seek a fifth Shield title in six years after in-form batsman Nic Maddinson was ruled out of the decider due to a fractured thumb.
Cameron White has returned to Victoria's 14-player squad in place of Maddinson, while Sam Harper and Eamonn Vines have also been added.
"The squad has come together strongly at the right time, with only Nic Maddinson's injury a hurdle along the way," Cricket Victoria Chairman of Selectors Andrew Lynch said.
"This has allowed us to name an extended squad and gives us different options that we'll finalise in the coming days.
"Nic's injury is incredibly unfortunate as it's not only his second setback this season, but he's also been in a rich vein of form and an integral part of our push for another Shield title … (but) this does however present an opportunity for another player to come in and make an impact on the biggest stage in domestic cricket."
Victoria: Scott Boland, Travis Dean (c), Andrew Fekete, Seb Gotch, Sam Harper, Marcus Harris, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Chris Tremain, Cameron White, Eamonn Vines.
NSW Blues: Peter Nevill (c), Sean Abbott, Nick Bertus, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Jason Sangha, Greg West.