NSW left arm off-spinner Stephen O’Keefe has always been a humble, yet harshly treated individual. The 29 year old finger-spinner has consistently been overlooked for higher honours, despite consistently finishing with statistics defining that of a quality all-rounder.
But now the spinner is on track to make his Test debut as Australia looks for yet another reliable spinner in the post Shane Warne period.
All signs have pointed to O’Keefe and Test cricket following his standout performance last year in the Sheffield Shield. O’Keefe topped the wicket-taking table in the Sheffield Shield with 41 wickets at an average of better than 25, and a more than handy batting average of over 28.
O’Keefe’s performances in the Big Bash League for the Sydney Sixers have also contributed to calls for the talented spinner to represent his country.
Why O’Keefe has been overlooked has left many pundits scratching heads. However, following shoulder surgery on his non-bowling arm O’Keefe made his comeback last week, and was one of Australia’s few standouts.
Playing in Townsville for Australia A against South Africa, O’Keefe took two big wickets and all but diminished selectors worries over his troublesome shoulder.
But while selectors and stakeholders were debating over O’Keefe and his place in the Australian fold, the Manly local was portraying to all his level of humility, and his care for fans of the sport.
Last week, Manly Cricket President Andrew Fraser received a phone call from the local Wakehurst Redback Cricket Club regarding one of their young players, Euan Dixon, who is a huge Sydney Sixers fan.
Euan was diagnosed with a Staph infection between his pelvis and spine and has been doing it tough in hospital, with his condition becoming very serious. Knowing his love for the Sixers, Fraser was quick to contact O’Keefe and the Sixers star was more than happy to pay a visit to the young man.
O’Keefe’s presence wasn’t the only gift he brought; the Sixers all-rounder also presented Euan with a personally signed Sixers jersey and was happy to spend time by his hospital bed.
O’Keefe didn’t want any publicity for his generous act and that’s just the type of man he is. O’Keefe is the type of person young athletes can model themselves around, and his strong influence at Manly Cricket Club is evidence of the seniority and leadership he brings. There’s a reason he was the former Captain of New South Wales, a position he voluntarily stood down from for selection reasons.
Unfortunately for Euan, the young sportsman will be out of action for a while as he is on the road to recovery.