Melbourne [Australia], Jan.9 (ANI
): Australian spinner Stephen O'Keefe has been pulled out of the Big Bash League (BBL) so that he could focus on the country's Test tour of India starting next month.
The 32-year-old was named in the Sydney Sixers squad to make his return to BBL in today's match against the Melbourne Renegades at the SCG but was withdrawn from the tournament by Cricket Australia (CA) to focus on the five-day format.
While confirming the news, CA's Executive General Manager of Team Performance, Pat Howard, said O'Keefe needs to play more red-ball cricket ahead of the four-match Test series against the Virat Kohli-led side beginning February 23 at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium.
"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 Qantas tour of India. 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," cricket.com.au quoted Howard as saying.
"His focus will now be on Grade and Futures League cricket before likely being one of the first players to depart for Dubai in late January," he added.
O'Keefe now looks almost certain to be named in Australia's squad against India
, which is expected to be announced later this month.
The left-arm orthodox spinner had a horror run with injuries in the latter half of 2016, but he made successful return to Australia
's Test XI for the final Test of the home summer against Pakistan at the SCG. (ANI