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I would like to take things one step at a time: O'Keefe

Stan Rayan



Steve O'Keefe.

KOCHI: He is being hailed as the future of Australian cricket, as one of the young men who will be in their prime when the next ICC World Cup comes around.

But despite Australia being the host of the next World Cup in 2015, along with New Zealand, Steve O'Keefe is not looking so far ahead.

“I'd like to take things one step at a time,” said the 26-year-old all-rounder from New South Wales at the Nehru Stadium here.

“Right now, I'm just happy to be with the Blues (NSW), try to make the most of it.”

He must be speaking from experience. Cricket is a fickle game and often, players are not sure how long the party would last. O'Keefe had been a leading contender for an Australian World Cup berth but did not make it.

When you look at the $9,50,000 Kochi dished out for Ravindra Jadeja at the IPL Players Auction early this year, O'Keefe appears to have come for small change. He was taken at his basement price of only $20,000.

But he seems to be good value for money.

O'Keefe has played three T20 internationals. He had a stunning debut, picking three wickets for 29 runs with his left-arm spin, against Pakistan.

He picked his first wicket, Salman Butt, in his first international T20 over. And just a few days ago, he was awarded the Steve Waugh medal as New South Wales ‘Player of the Year.'

No wonder, Geoff Lawson, the Kochi Tuskers coach, said the other day that he would have happily parted with something like $200,000 to pick O'Keefe.

Lawson, a former Pakistan and New South Wales coach, considers O'Keefe an exceptional cricketer in all forms of the game.

“I didn't know what to expect here, but I realise now that cricket is a big game here,” said the Malaysia-born O'Keefe. “But I thought I'd just take this as just another learning experience. We have the Australia ‘A' tour to Zimbabwe soon after this, and I am looking forward to it.”

He is very happy with Kochi. “Kochi made me very welcome, the people here are lovely,” he said the young man who took to cricket at nine after watching Test and one-dayers on TV. “It's a different culture here but people are very friendly.”

However, he took some time to settle down with the Kochi conditions. O'Keefe was down with tummy troubles after the first training session here and couldn't move out for nearly two days. “India has given me a full welcome,” he said in jest.

With just four foreign players allowed to play in the IPL, O'Keefe may have to wait for his chance.

But with some of the big stars weary after the World Cup, the call could come up sooner than expected.

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