Veteran spinner Stephen O’Keefe has extended his KFC BBL career for another season in a significant boost to the Sydney Sixers’ hopes of an unprecedented ‘three-peat’.
There had been speculation that the 36-year-old would call time on his Big Bash career but after playing an important role in the Sixers’ second successive title last season, he was given the opportunity to again play under the astute coaching of master mentor Greg Shipperd.
O’Keefe will return for his 11th season with the club, joining Sixers’ captain Moises Henriques among a select few to play every season of the Big Bash.
“I’m extremely grateful to Cricket NSW and (CNSW CEO) Lee Germon for giving me the opportunity to play another year of cricket with the Sixers and keep playing the game that I love,” O’Keefe said.
O’Keefe played 14 matches in BBL|10 and collected 15 wickets in the process, producing a number of masterclasses in T20 spin bowling that had some calling for his inclusion in Australia’s T20 squad for the upcoming World Cup.
The left-armer conceded just 6.93 runs per over, a figure bettered by only Afghan spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman (6.26) and Rashid Khan (6.87) among the tournament’s top 30 wicket-takers.
O’Keefe is the third player this off-season to extend his deal with the Sixers, after captain Henriques and pace bowler Ben Dwarshuis committed to two- and three-year terms respectively.
It gives the Sixers 15 contracted players for BBL|11, including England international Tom Curran, one of only two overseas players already contracted for the coming season. Jackson Bird is the only frontline player from last summer’s title-winning squad yet to re-commit to the club, with the other two spots in the 18-man squad expected to go to internationals, with the club understood to be keen on a return for Englishman James Vince.
Shipperd’s contract has also been extended by two years, although general manager Jodie Hawkins made a surprising exit as part of a major Cricket NSW restructure in April.
Under the sweeping changes, both NSW-based BBL general manager positions – with the Sixers and Sydney Thunder – were dissolved, with external list managers appointed, and contracted to Cricket NSW.
The Sixers’ quest for the BBL’s first three-peat begins on December 5 at the SCG, when they will host the Melbourne Stars.
Sydney Sixers BBL|11 squad (so far): Sean Abbott, Dan Christian, Tom Curran (ENG), Ben Dwarshuis, Jack Edwards, Mickey Edwards, Moises Henriques (c), Daniel Hughes, Hayden Kerr, Nathan Lyon, Ben Manenti, Stephen O’Keefe, Josh Philippe, Lloyd Pope, Jordan Silk.