Australia's Steve O'Keefe reacts after making an unsuccessful appeal during the second day of the fourth Test against India in March.
Australia's Steve O'Keefe reacts after making an unsuccessful appeal during the second day of the fourth Test against India in March. Tsering Topgyal

'You're very lucky you get second chances and I got that'

A REMORSEFUL Steve O'Keefe has opened up about the deep-seated regret he feels over his drunken behaviour at a NSW Cricket awards night earlier this year.

O'Keefe says he will savour his shock Test recall in Bangladesh after admitting he thought he had ruined his career.

The 32-year-old says he has struggled with the guilt of his hurtful actions but that his talk is "cheap" until he can prove over a long period of time that he has addressed issues involving alcohol.

O'Keefe, who looks set to play in the second Test in Chittagong, offended a NSW female cricketer on the night in question and says he is truly sorry.

"It's hard. There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the couple of stuff-ups I've made," O'Keefe said.

"I regret it and I'm sorry for what happened. I really am.

"I'm thankful that Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia have provided me with supportive structure for me to resolve some issues and I think at times the reason I haven't spoken about it is because I think my words can be cheap after stuffing up twice.

"The only thing that will show that will be not three months later, but five years later when I'm settled and happy and long after the cricket lights have gone out and I'm respected personally in the community. Only time will fix that."

 

Australia's Steve O'Keefe acknowledges the crowd after taking six wickets on the second day of the first Test match against India.
Australia's Steve O'Keefe acknowledges the crowd after taking six wickets on the second day of the first Test match against India. Rajanish Kakade

O'Keefe had just got back from a career-defining tour of India when the incident took place, and admits he thought he had sabotaged his career, particularly given he had been hauled over the coals the previous year for a late-night argument with security staff in Manly.

He admits he has huge improvements he still needs to make.

"Yeah I did originally. I felt at the stage when I stuffed up the first time, you're very lucky you get second chances and I got that," O'Keefe said.

"I have faulted again and made some mistakes which I completely regret. I'm extremely sorry for.

"I'm just fortunate that I've got some supportive people around me who, as quick as they are to hand out a punishment, will be the same people that will be there to support and make sure that as an individual I'm on the track. Not as a cricketer, which I think to them at times can be irrelevant, just as a person.

"It's a bit of a personal journey and after three months I don't want to go into too much detail (about changes I've made).

 

Australia's Steve O'Keefe celebrates the dismissal of India's Virat Kohli during the third day of the first Test.
Australia's Steve O'Keefe celebrates the dismissal of India's Virat Kohli during the third day of the first Test. Rajanish Kakade

"What I will say is that I'm extremely thankful that I deserve the punishments I got and I completely understand why I got them.

"But Cricket NSW and Cricket Australia have been extremely supportive in providing a structure which allows me to improve and after stuffing up twice in 12 months I'm not going to sit here and say everything is cured and fixed and I'm ready to go.

"I've got things I've got to work on and facing those issues that I haven't done in the past can be tough work. I'm working on it. Hopefully in five years I can sit down and have a coffee with you and give you the longer, drawn-out version."

O'Keefe is suspended from NSW's one-day cup domestic campaign but says he was told right from the outset that Australian selectors hadn't shut the door on him over the NSW awards incident.

Instead, O'Keefe was told by national selector Trevor Hohns that they were going with younger spinners, hence why his sudden recall to replace the injured Josh Hazlewood for the second Test in Chittagong has come as such a bombshell.

O'Keefe was told his performances had fallen away in India, a series where he took 19 wickets at 23 to be Australia's leading bowler, and to suddenly be back in the fold has taken him by shock.

 

Steve O'Keefe stretches during a training session ahead of the second Test against India.
Steve O'Keefe stretches during a training session ahead of the second Test against India. Aijaz Rahi

"I got a phone call I think two days ago. I was just having a feed with a mate and saw the missed phone call. I was quite surprised to be honest," he said.

"One thing I admire about 'Cracker' (Hohns), even though it might be hard to hear sometimes, is that he's up front and honest.

"I certainly respect that. He said they were going down a different path with some younger players, which I totally understand, who have played really well in that last Test.

"Obviously being a spinner replacing a fast bowler surprised me as well.

"I like seeing the Australian cricket team do well. After day two, I even sent Ashton (Agar) a message saying, 'You look right at home, mate. The ball looks like it's coming home beautifully and you're obviously more than capable, the most capable of the others.'

"You'd obviously like to be there playing, but after I spoke to 'Cracker', who gave me that honesty a couple of months ago in regards to the direction of the team they were taking, and even Steve (Smith), it settles in.

"It's hard to hear at first but you accept that."

News Corp Australia

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