Cricket Australia (CA) has pulled out left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe from the ongoing Big Bash League to give him more practise time with the red ball ahead of the tour of India in February-March.
O’Keefe was named in the Sydney Sixers alongside senior Australian spinner Nathan Lyon for the game against Melbourne Renegades but he will now focus on the five-day format with the tough Test tour to the sub-continent round the corner.
He, alongside Lyon, is expected to form the the core of spin department in India.
CA’s Executive General Manager of Team Performance, Pat Howard, feels O’Keefe needs more practice with the red-ball.
“Post the Sri Lanka tour last year we have been in talks with Cricket NSW and Steve on the best way for him to prepare for the tour of India,” Howard said.
“After his recent injuries, which have caused him to miss Sheffield Shield matches this season, he has had a lot less red ball match practice than other players that are likely to tour India and it is important he gets as much bowling in the format he is going to play.
“His focus will now be on Grade and Futures League cricket before likely being one of the first players to depart for Dubai (camp ahead of India tour) in late January.”
Australia are looking to improve their Test record in India, having been whitewashed 4-0 in their previous outing.
The first Test of the four match series begins in Pune from February 23.