The experts say Steve O’Keefe doesn’t spin it enough

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?

No.

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.

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20 Appeals

  1. Indeed, KC.

    Jet lag had me up and watching between 4:15 and 5:00 this morning, during which time Shane Warne went on and on (and on) about how inappropriate O’Keefe was for this pitch and indeed probably this test series.

    Yet it sounded to me as though Warne was describing a bowling style much like Jadeja’s, which seems to work very well with a red ball on Indian pitches.

    Then I fell asleep, missing all of O’Keefe’s carnage.

    Then I woke up.

    Morning, everyone.

    • Warne specifically kept going on and on about how Mitchell Swepson would have been “more of an attacking option,” presumably because he turns the ball a long way on flat pitches, apparently not realizing that on this pitch, O’Keefe is just as capable of turning it a long way, and unlike Swepson, can actually maintain a line and length.

  2. In other Aussie spinner news, there is a double treat in store for fans of Cricket Badger’s “cricketer spotted” feature.

    I especially delighted in the paragraph which begins, “I followed them into the corner store…”

    A classic.

    • King Cricket

      February 24, 2017 at 12:43 pm

      A lesson there for all those who decide not to send us sightings because they conclude they’re not exciting enough.

    • I would just like to point out that I was going to the corner store for legitimate reasons myself, not just to stalk cricketers.

      • Although now I think about it “stalking Cricketers” is probably considered a legitimate reason around these parts.

  3. I haven’t seen SOK’s wickets yet.

    Can someone explain what he did so differently to Mo-Al, Ad-Rash, Zaf-Ans and Gaz-Batts?

    Or was it just bad batting?

    • Starc had already taken care of Kohli, that probably helped.

      • Starc/Hazelwood took care of Kohli/Pujara/Vijay who all are excellent players of spin.

        KL Rahul injured himself and had a brain fade.

        Lower order didn’t use feet to O’keefe who (as per Monga) just pitched it up and let the pitch do the rest.

        Plus combination of Starc/Hwood/Lyon/OK didn’t give away any release/4 balls unlike Rashid/Moeen & co.

        AND SMITH/PETER SAFEHANDS COMB catch a million times bettet than Cook/Root.

      • When I watching this game live on TV, I was dumbstruck that India lost few wickets to couple of outrageously good catches by Handscomb & another sharp snaffle by Smith.

        Truth be told, there was nothing much wrong with the way Indians batted, nor anything exceptional or deadly bowled by Australians neither was the pitch an unplayable Bunsen burner.

        In hindsight, this looks like a 4-bowler pitch. If Indians had had an extra batsman such as Karun Nair / Rohit Sharma at 6 maybe they could have recovered after Rahul’s harakiri and posted a decent 200+ total. I’ve admired Kohli/Kumble for courageously sticking to a 5 bowler plan, but in this case the circumstances probably demanded a reversion to the traditional 6-1-4 formation.

        From the Australian perspective, they came with a clear idea of their ideal XI (Maybe the selectors just asked warne for advice & then did the exact opposite of what he suggested?)

        Also O’Keefe had skipped BBL & asked advice from Vettori/Panesar/Muralitharan (not Warne!)

        Plus a major boost for Australia is that coach Sriram is actually a very competent left arm spinner AND also a very competent batsman in first class cricket. That probably compensates any negatives from Lehmann.

        All in all, India didn’t do much to deserve such an ignominious collapse (and all the more funny because it was so unexpected) but Australia definitely earned this result and richly deserved it, I suppose.

    • King Cricket

      February 24, 2017 at 1:50 pm

      The main thing he did differently was he took six for spit.

      • King Cricket

        February 24, 2017 at 1:53 pm

        Other than that, nothing eye-catchingly different. Good line and length on a different pitch under different circumstances.

      • One characteristic Jadeja has (I suspect O’Keefe similarly) is the ability to mix up the pace quite considerably without much reveal and without messing up the line and length.

        Experts don’t talk about pace mix much in the context of test spin, but I suspect it is a critical characteristic for those spinners who don’t spin it much but can do “just enough” to get a batsmen out every 60-65 balls without giving away too many runs in the process.

        Simple really, don’t know why lots of other spinners don’t just follow suit.

      • King Cricket

        February 24, 2017 at 4:48 pm

        Using the width of the crease too. Saw O’Keefe bowl a couple from super wide going round the wicket.

      • I have always bounce is important for spinners. Get it up around the splice of the bat off a good length and get the close in fieldsman in with a chance.

  4. Hey Kumble could barely turn the ball and look where he ended up

    Not commenting on his role as coach

  5. I was going to go to work yesterday, but after breakfast and coffee decided that “working from home” was a better option. So I stayed home and watched the match. I agree with Marees’ comments – can’t read much into the collapse. Good for O’Keefe, but one swallow does not a summer make.

  6. Ten in the match. Imagine how many he could have if he spun it properly, the part-timer.

  7. I’m just happy that O’Keefe has proven that clown Warne wrong. For some reason he really likes Mitchell Swepson, but O’Keefe’s 1st class figures speak for themselves.

    The last spinner Warnie championed into the test side was Michael Beer, and we know how well that turned out.

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