Steve O’Keefe hails S Sriram, the Indian hand behind his Pune Test haul
Former India ODI all-rounder Sridharan Sriram, the Australian team’s spin consultant, asked Steve O’Keefe to tweak his bowling to devastating effect in the Pune Test.cricket Updated: Feb 26, 2017 11:30 IST
Australia spinner Steve O’Keefe produced one of the great moments in his country’s Test history with sensational bowling in the first Test victory over India, and hailed the Indian hand that made it possible.
The left-arm spinner, who took an Australian record 12/70 to consign India to a 333-run defeat, has hailed India’s Sridharan Sriram, the team’s spin consultant, for providing the cutting edge on Indian conditions.
O’Keefe, 32, bowled a nine-over spell on the second day before lunch, going for 30 runs without taking a wicket. But tweaking his approach after a chat with Sriram on the ground during the interval miraculously changed everything.
The spinner went on to capture five wickets in 19 deliveries as India crashed to 105 all out in their first innings, losing their last seven wickets for 11 runs.
After his 6/35 in the first innings, O’Keefe praised the work done by Sriram, the 41-year-old former Tamil Nadu left-handed batsman and left-arm spinner, who played eight ODIs between 2000 and 2004.
“I was going a bit over the top, when I tried to bowl quick it was too full, it was ordinary bowling the first six overs,” O’Keefe was quoted as saying in the Sydney Morning Herald. He grabbed another 6/35 in the second innings as India were routed for 107 in the second innings.
“I’d been working in the nets on other variations, just changing the seam angle and arm angle. You probably don’t notice it but for me it made all the difference,” O’Keefe said.
“Sri’s like ‘let’s go out and bowl it and if you feel comfortable with it, let’s start up with it in the next innings’. It worked out this time.”
Australia had also hired former England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar --- he had joined forces with off-spinner Graeme Swann for England’s series 2012-13 series win in India --- but O’Keefe said Sriram had been his “biggest influence”.
“He gets it, he understands how to bowl in these conditions, he understands what the batters are thinking,” O’Keefe said.
“I think Sri is an excellent spin bowling coach. I’ve worked with him a couple of times now and he’s really impressive.”
Sriram was hired by Cricket Australia in September, 2015 and worked as a consultant during the World Twenty20 campaign in India early last year. He was also with Australia on their Sri Lanka tour, though they lost the series 3-0.
Sriram was attached to the Australian squad as it prepared on custom-made pitches in Dubai for the spin-friendly conditions in India before arriving for the four-Test series.
“Sri knows our players very well and has a wealth of knowledge on the conditions that our players will face in India,” Pat Howard, CA’s executive general manager of team performance, had said in January.
Sriram, who was Tamil Nadu U-19 skipper, and was more a batsman, scored 3,916 runs at just over 46 in his 16-year first-class career.
His career saw its ups and downs, though. Sriram’s bowling action came under scrutiny for chucking, and he ran into more trouble after joining the rebel Indian Cricket League. However, he accepted the BCCI’s amnesty, subsequently playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2010.
Interestingly, Sriram ended his first-class career with Maharashtra in Pune, where the man he gave a crash course on spin took wings rather late in his career.