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Steve O’Keefe opens up on off-field regrets after first-class retirement

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Steve O’Keefe, the Australia left-arm spinner who retired from first-class cricket on Monday, said the only regrets he had about his career pertained to certain off-field incidents under the influence of alcohol.

O’Keefe had his moments in his career, despite playing just nine Tests for Australia, specifically when he registered the best figures by a touring spinner in India when he took 12-70 in Pune in 2017. However, those achievements were blighted by misdemeanours away from the cricket pitch.

In 2017, he was fined AU$20,000 for making inappropriate comments while drunk at a function. That indiscretion was the second within a year – in August 2016, he had been fined AU$10,000 for offensive conduct at a pub in Sydney.

Talking on ABC’s Corbin and Ben radio show on Sunday, O’Keefe spoke of his regrets at not being a good role model. “What the Australian team and public deserve is not only cricketers, but good role models,” O’Keefe said.

“Absolutely, I dropped the ball not once and twice, and I’m really ashamed of the way that I’ve behaved. Cricket Australia really put in a lot of support networks for people when they do drop the ball like I did … and I don’t hold any grudges because of that.

“It was never said to me, ‘You did this, so you don’t deserve this,’ but I know for a fact that if I behave better and do all the right things, then you get that opportunity.

“I’m disappointed, but I don’t make any apologies for myself. The only regrets I’ve ever had in cricket aren’t on the field, they’re off the field. I’ve tried my best to improve… It’s a work in progress.”

O’Keefe had announced his retirement on Sunday after not being awarded a new Sheffield Shield contract by New South Wales, despite being the most successful spinner in the tournament in the 2019/20 season.

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