Sydney - Steve O'Keefe's hopes of joining the Australian
slow-bowling attack in the four-test series in India from next month have been
boosted after the left-arm spinner was withdrawn from the remainder of the Big
Bash League to prepare for the tour.
The 32-year-old returned home injured after playing his
third test in Sri Lanka last July and was only recalled to the national team
for last week's final test of the home summer against Pakistan.
O'Keefe had been named in the Sydney Sixers squad to make
his return to BBL action in Monday's match against the Melbourne Renegades at
the SCG before Cricket Australia pulled him out.
He will now focus on the five-day format and will be part of
a group of players travelling to Dubai for a training camp ahead of the India
"Post the Sri Lanka tour last year we have been in
talks with Cricket New South Wales and Steve on the best way for him to prepare
for the ... tour of India," CA team performance boss Pat Howard said.
"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.
"His focus will now be on grade and futures league
cricket before likely being one of the first players to depart for Dubai in
O'Keefe was impressive on his Australia return, posting
match figures of four for 103 during the hosts' third test win against Pakistan
at the SCG.
Australia have not won a test series in India since 2004 and
were blanked on their previous trip to the subcontinent's spin-friendly conditions
in Sri Lanka last year.