What’s the story?
After being appointed as Australia’s spin bowling consultant, England spinner Monty Panesar, has said that left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe will be the key man for the Aussies when they tour India next month. Panesar also feels that he can be Australia’s Ravindra Jadeja in the four-match Test series that begins on February 23.
“He (O’Keefe) wants to emulate how Jadeja goes about his business, and I feel he can provide a similar role to the Australian team. He is very good at working out his strengths and limitations,” said Panesar.
In case you didn’t know...
Ahead of a crucial four-match Test series against India, Cricket Australia appointed Monty Panesar and Sridharan Sriram as the spin bowling consultant and mentor to their spinners, respectively.
Panesar will be working with the Australian spinners before they leave to India. Earlier, Australia announced their 16-member squad led by Steve Smith that will tour the Asian country and have included 4 frontline spinners (Nathan Lyon, Steve O’Keefe, Mitchell Swepson and Ashton Agar) apart from all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
The heart of the matter
Panesar spent some valuable time with O'Keefe and young opener Matt Renshaw at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane, and gave advice on the kind of pitches they could encounter in India and trained them on playing on Indian wickets.
The Indian-origin spinner, who was one of England’s architect in the 2012 series, praised O’Keefe and said that he could be very handy for Steve Smith and co. in the series. Cricket Australia advised O’Keefe to skip the Big Bash League matches for Sydney Sixers to concentrate on the Test series against India.
Speaking to TOI, Panesar also revealed that all-rounder Glenn Maxwell could have a big impact against India as he is capable of giving the captain an option to bowl 10-15 overs when needed, and can take the game away from the opposition in just a session if he gets going with the bat.
Australia will tour New Zealand to play their trans-Tasmanian rivals in a three-match ODI series for the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy before hosting Sri Lanka in a three-match T20I series.
The T20I series against Sri Lanka is just before the start of the Test series against India and it has been confirmed that the Aussies will go in with a completely different squad, as most of their first-choice players will be preparing in India for Tests.
Spending time with Panesar ahead of the Indian tour is a blessing in disguise for O’Keefe, as the English spinner is someone who has bowled well in the sub-continental conditions for England.
At the same time, O’Keefe will have to play out of his skin to match the skills of Jadeja, who is number 2 in the ICC Test rankings, and is on par with R Ashwin when it comes to bowling in Indian conditions.Published 25 Jan 2017, 11:52 IST