Sport Cricket O’Keefe dumped from Test squad, Starc rested

O’Keefe dumped from Test squad, Starc rested

Australia Test squad
Stephen O'Keefe will not travel to Bangladesh after he was dropped from the 13-man squad. Photo: Getty
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Left-arm spinner Stephen O’Keefe has been dropped from Australia’s Test team, with the 32-year-old a notable omission from a 13-man squad that is set to tour Bangladesh in August and September.

Spearhead quick Mitchell Starc is also missing in a blow to Australia’s fast bowling stocks. 

His recovery from a stress fracture in his foot has not been as quick as Australia would have liked and he will be rested in a bid to be fully fit for a big summer, which includes the visit of England.

If their pay dispute is resolved, Steve Smith’s side will play two Tests against Bangladesh in their first series since an enthralling 2-1 loss in India.

O’Keefe starred in Australia’s sole victory in India, finishing with match figures of 12-70 in Pune, but he could not maintain those levels of performance.

Ashton Agar will support first-choice spinner Nathan Lyon on the Bangladesh tour, which seems set to go ahead after Australia said they were provided with “satisfactory levels of assurance and security”.

Australian Test squad
All-rounder Ashton Agar will replace O’Keefe. Photo: Getty

“Whilst Steve O’Keefe bowled well in Pune, he did not maintain this level in the remaining matches of the series and we believe the timing is right for Ashton to enter the set-up and test his all-rounder ability,” national selector Trevor Hohns said.

“Ashton has continued to impress us with his form and we believe his bowling is at a level where he deserves to be playing on the highest stage.

“He will work nicely in tandem with Nathan Lyon and also brings a great all-round package to the team.”

In April, O’Keefe was fined $20,000 and banned for the 2017 Matador One-Day Cup after an alcohol-related incident following a Cricket New South Wales function.

On Starc’s omission, Hohns added: “Mitchell was due to go for follow up scans after the Champions Trophy, as part of his recovery plan.

“These scans have indicated his previous stress fracture has still not fully healed to the extent we would like.

“He will now undertake a period of rest from bowling.”

Western Australia all-rounder Hilton Cartwright was included in the 13, with Hohns expressing delight with his batting form.

Cartwright scored 861 Sheffield Shield runs last season, the second-highest tally in the competition.

Cricket Australia’s executive general manager Pat Howard said the safety of Australia’s players was of the highest priority.

“The Bangladesh Cricket Board and the Bangladesh Government have provided satisfactory levels of assurance and security for this tour to proceed at this stage, and we’re very grateful to them for this,” he said.

“We will continue to work with them to finalise plans but also monitor advice from government agencies and our own security advisors about the security risk.

“Our number one priority will always be the safety and security of our players and support staff when travelling to any country.”

On the pay dispute, Howard added: “Selectors have also chosen this Bangladesh squad irrespective and independent of the status of the MOU [memorandum of understanding].

“We are working towards a resolution being in place by 30 June and look forward to continuing to support these players to perform at their very best on the global stage.”

Full Australia squad: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner (vice-captain), Ashton Agar, Hilton Cartwright, Pat Cummins, Peter Handscomb, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Matthew Renshaw, Matthew Wade