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Australia vs West Indies third cricket Test: Steve O'Keefe ready to do a job

When Steve O'Keefe returned from the United Arab Emirates after making his debut Test for Australia, he invited a handful of old grade cricket teammates, playing down the road at Manly Oval, to his place for a casual post-match beer.

Not one to forget where he comes from, O'Keefe, upon request, proudly pulled his baggy green out of its bag and showed his mates, hands going everywhere like seagulls onto chips at the beach. After a few hours of amicable conversation, O'Keefe's friends then tried convincing him to come with them for a night on the town.

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O'Keefe hopes to play in first home Test

Australian spinner Steve O'Keefe says it will be difficult to break into the Test team but hopes the wicket will be conducive to spin.

He politely declined their offer, explaining that as much as he would have liked to, he had an important shield match at the SCG in a few days time and wanted to show national selectors he could be Australia's second spinner, if required, for the New Year's Test against India.

As it turned out, O'Keefe bowled just one over in that match — the game Phillip Hughes was tragically felled by a bouncer — and it did not matter to him one bit. A year on, and with an even stronger case, O'Keefe looks set to get the chance, in front of a home crowd. The injured Peter Siddle missed an optional training session on Friday, giving further reason to think Australia will pick two spinners for the first time since Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill in 2006. 

"The benefit of not being picked is you go back to shield cricket and learn your craft and that's the best place to ...
"The benefit of not being picked is you go back to shield cricket and learn your craft and that's the best place to learn": Steve O'Keefe. Photo: Getty Images

O'Keefe has bowled more with a red ball at the SCG than any of his Australian teammates and says his experience — at the ground where he made his first-class debut 10 years ago — will hold him in good stead if given the opportunity.

"I certainly feel over the last five years I've got better and better and the benefit of not being picked is you go back to shield cricket and learn your craft and that's the best place to learn," said O'Keefe, who has snared 17 wickets at 24.64 in first-class fixtures this season. "I certainly think I was in a better place than I was five years ago. You feel confident on different wickets assessing conditions and batters."

 The left-arm tweaker says the SCG pitch has an extra tinge of grass to it and believes spin will play a big part. Plenty has been made of O'Keefe's long wait to get his chance on home soil, but he looks assured to fulfil what he  said in the past would be the highlight of his career. 

"The doubt always goes through your mind, but again, you can understand why," he said. "They play so many quicks around Australia on these conditions, so to be thought of as a second spinner, I take that as a feather in the cap." 

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