O'Keefe set to shoulder challenge

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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The six-week Australia A tour may be winding down this week, but for Steve O'Keefe, it's only just the beginning.

O’Keefe appears a certain starter for the second four-day match against South Africa A in Townsville, almost five months since his last competitive hit-out and subsequent shoulder reconstruction in the off-season.

O'Keefe was the leading wicket-taker last season in the Sheffield Shield, and prior to the call-up spoke to CricketNSW.com.au about the privilege of representing Australia A five months after undergoing a shoulder reconstruction.

“It’s a huge privilege and honour to be able to play with some of the country’s finest players, and hopefully (I can) put a strong performance on the board.

“(I’m looking forward to) being able to get that confidence up after the shoulder reconstruction. You can do all the stuff in the nets that you like, but being able to get out there on the turf and playing in the sun will certainly help, and it’s a great preseason starter for me given the schedule is going to be jam-packed full of Cricket.

“I’m excited to be getting out and playing some Cricket. I’ve had 5 months off, and I think two-weeks are enough before I started getting hungry to play. I’m just keen to get back out there and show that I’m good to go.”

O'Keefe's stellar summer where he picked up 41 wickets at an average of 20.43, as well as the spin-friendly conditions expected in the UAE, has some tipping his left-arm orthodox to accompany the off-spin of fellow Blue Nathan Lyon for October's tour against Pakistan.

"It's every kid's dream to play for Australia," O'Keefe told cricket.com.au last Thursday.

"The goal posts are going to change between now and then I'm sure, so this (Aus A tour) is just one step to hopefully getting to play for Australia one day.

"I haven't got my eyes set on that at the moment, I've got to fully test myself out in the middle."

The conditions at Tony Ireland Stadium aren't likely to offer the same kind of assistance to the spinners as those in the UAE, but O'Keefe believes he can still play an important role against South Africa A this week.

"All around Australia it's hard to get wickets that are spin-friendly," said O'Keefe.

"Whether it's to try and tie up an end with the ball, or whether it's spinning and you've got to win games for your side, we'll sum that up on the day depending on the conditions."

You can watch all the action from Townsville LIVE on cricket.com.au, starting at 9:30am AEST Thursday.

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