O’Keefe: Missing Ashes worked out well

Australia

Australia spinner Steve O'Keefe was not picked for the tour to England for the Ashes, but says that's actually worked in his favour as he had the time to impress the selectors on the A-tour to India.

O'Keefe, who made his debut in October last year in the UAE, has been added to the squad to go to Bangladesh next month. Fawad Ahmed, on the other hand, carried drinks in England for two months, and has been dropped.

Fawad was picked ahead of O'Keefe despite being uncapped, and while he was upset at the time, O'Keefe feels it worked out for the best, as he took 14 wickets in two matches against India A, thus doing enough to regain his place.

O'Keefe told cricket.com.au: "If I'd gone away on tour I may not have had that opportunity to go to India and play in those conditions. So that's the positive I can take out of it I guess.

"You naturally get disappointed at times if guys get picked ahead of you, but I think what we saw last year was pretty exciting for Fawad Ahmed. I completely understand why the selectors went with that decision.

Although I felt like I had a good year, to be able to press for spots in that Australian team you need to be performing outstandingly well and dominating Shield cricket and Fawad had done that really well.

"I knew that I was bowling well and was just grateful to have that opportunity to play in India."

The spinner added that the India tour was a big one for a few players, including Usman Khawaja and Joe Burns, and that the selectors told them to enjoy it and make the most of the sub-continental conditions.

He added: "Trevor Hohns is very transparent as a selector. He had a conversation with all the players before we played and said 'this is nothing more than an opportunity'.

"There's a fair bit of cricket coming up in the subcontinent and we know how hard it is for travelling teams to do well in those conditions.

"So … he said to enjoy it and make the most of it. So he kept it pretty simple.

"There's always that underlying feeling that you know there's all that sort of pressure. You want to do well and you don't want to be pigeon-holed as someone who can't perform over there.

"But in saying that I think Usman and the rest of the team really balanced that out and we did just try and genuinely have as much fun as possible away from the game.

"The support staff certainly helped that out. We had ping pong tables there, we had a quality team room set-up, so a lot of the down time we had in India wasn't thinking about whether I'm good enough or what we had on the next day.

"It was just having a bit of fun with the boys and I think that put us in a good headspace to compete and showcase our skills."

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