It’s hard to see how India’s batsmen could possibly learn to play Steve O’Keefe any better than they did on the one occasion they’ve faced him. Compounding this is the 100 per cent true fact that they’ve already committed to playing on pitches identical to that used in the first Test for the remainder of this series.
Throw in the fact that Australia can now easily separate their batsmen into spin competents and incompentents by having O’Keefe bowl at each of them for five minutes in the nets and it’s hard to see how Australia can possibly lose this series – or indeed any future series played in spin-centric conditions.
Australia are once again the best Test team in the world. They have a bit of mongrel about them; they’re playing aggressively and as a unit; they’re going right up to the line without crossing it – and now they have momentum too.
Terry Jenner said that Steve O’Keefe bowled blancmanges. If you for some reason think that was intended as a compliment, O’Keefe himself recalls: “He’d just look at me in disgust about how putrid these things were that were coming out of my hand.”
Jenner’s greatest protégé Shane Warne feels similarly. According to him, O’Keefe is not a “red ball player,” he is “a white ball specialist.”
O’Keefe’s first-class bowling average is 23.81. His domestic one-day bowling average is 55.89. People actually pay Shane Warne significant sums of money to voice opinions like that.
Then again, Imran Khan probably thought Glenn McGrath didn’t swing the ball enough when he first saw him and Jeff Thomson probably thought he wasn’t quick enough. There’s more than one way to take a six-for. That’s the essence of cricket, no?
Steve O’Keefe bowled India out today. He took 6-35.
An enormous number of Australians were badmouthing the pitch even before a ball was bowled because they simply CANNOT comprehend that anything other than an Australian pitch is appropriate for Test cricket. But no matter what the state of the pitch, has anyone else taken 6-35 yet?
This shouldn’t really be an enormous surprise. If a spinner takes wickets at 23 without really spinning it a right lot, then presumably he’s making up for this in other ways – accuracy, consistency, general deviousness. Present such a player with a ‘helpful’ pitch and he’s going to make damn sure he makes the most of it.
Teams often head to India with ‘attacking’ spin bowlers, but Ravindra Jadeja averages 20 on these pitches because he wangs it at the stumps and sometimes turns it away from them slightly. As templates go, that is attainable, yet touring sides will often labour under the misconception that they have some Murali or a Warne waiting in the wings who will finally reveal his true nature on Indian soil.
That is manifestly cobblers. Beware the putrid blancmanges – that’s what we say.
Steve O’Keefe’s finally been picked to play a Test match for Australia. We mentioned him as far back as 2010 as being a spinner who wasn’t completely rubbish, but who was somehow being overlooked in favour of any number of slow bowlers who were.
O’Keefe’s the second spinner, so Australia haven’t reverted to punishing Nathan Lyon for being Nathan Lyon – he’s still playing as well. Mitchell Marsh is making his debut too and one can only hope that he’ll be as majestically inconsistent as his brother, Shaun.
Pakistan have also given two players debuts. Yasir Shah is a legspinner who played a solitary one-day international in 2011 when he also played two T20 internationals. We know nothing about him.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan is, as you might imagine, a pace bowler of some description. He’s down as right-arm medium-fast on Cricinfo, but that’s what they tend to put when they don’t really know a player. Being as Imran has neither a photo nor a written profile on his player page, we suspect that is the case in this instance. In classic Pakistan tradition, he was probably hired to drive the team bus but impressed in the nets where he was bowling with an orange.
At the time of writing, Australia were one wicket away from the inevitable Younus Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq rebuilding partnership.