Australian and New South Wales Blues’ left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe has been recalled to the Blues squad for their Sheffield Shield clash with Tasmania starting on Saturday.
The return of O’Keefe, from a leg injury sustained during the Big Bash League, is a welcome addition for the Blues as they seek to rediscover their winning form.
O’Keefe is the only change from the 14-man squad named to play against South Australia. He replaces Manly-Warringah team mate and fast bowler Mickey Edwards, who has a foot injury.
The last Shield match O’Keefe played this season was against Tasmania at Blundstone Arena in Hobart during early December.
He claimed 1-77 and scored 52 not out in the first innings.
The spinner played four games for the Sydney Sixers in BBL 07 and bowled limited overs throughout. It will be his first match for the Blues since injuring his leg against the Perth Scorchers on New Year’s Day.
O’Keefe is one of three frontline spinners in the squad. He is joined by leading wicket taker for the Blues last season, Will Somerville, and Sheffield Shield debutant against South Australia, Dan Fallins, who both retain their place. Fallins claimed four wickets.
NSW opening batsman Daniel Hughes said it was great to see the Blues rookie get his first cap.
“He bowled really well. I mean he only got four wickets, but he built up pressure and got a few key wickets there for us,” Hughes said.
Hughes was one of the best performers for the Blues in the loss to South Australia. He scored 93 and 41 in the match.
While he felt like he is batting okay, Hughes said the Dukes ball presents its own challenges.
“You never real feel in against the Dukes ball (because) it’s always doing something,” he said.
“But it was nice to get some time out there in the middle, especially that partnership with me and KP (Kurtis Patterson), sort of working out different ways how to combat the Dukes ball.”
Patterson was another in good form against South Australia. He made 89 and 41.
Hughes said the Blues aren’t making the most of their opportunities at key moments.
“We haven’t quite nailed those key moments in these couple of games after Christmas so far, … if we can do that against Tasmania then I’m sure it will go a long way to helping us win.”
NSW Blues squad
Peter NEVILL (Eastern Suburbs) Captain
Harry CONWAY (Eastern Suburbs)
Trent COPELAND (St George / Western)
Ed COWAN (Sydney University)
Daniel FALLINS (Sutherland)
Moises HENRIQUES (St George)
Daniel HUGHES (Mosman/ Western)
Nick LARKIN (Sydney University / North Coast)
Nic MADDINSON (Eastern Suburbs / Illawarra)
Steve O’KEEFE (Manly Warringah)
Kurtis PATTERSON (St George)
Gurinder SANDHU (Fairfield-Liverpool)
Will SOMERVILLE (Eastern Suburbs)
Charlie STOBO (Gordon)