“They had the big interviews where he came out and said what he said. He was an integral part of that team before all those things happened. If Bancroft hits the ground running . . . and starts really, really well and gets hundreds, I can’t see any reason why he wouldn’t be picked up as a spare batter [on the Ashes tour].”
The Blues resume their campaign sitting second on the ladder and have high expectations for the remaining fixtures.
Anything short of making the Shield final would be a failure.
“Anything short of making the Shield final would be a failure,” O’Keefe said. “In the past we’ve had some really disappointing seasons performance-wise.
“We’re coming up against WA, who we beat at [their] home and they’re going to be strong again . . . but I really want us to make a statement this game and set up our back-end and get into the final.”
The combination of wet Sydney weather and a Dukes ball is likely to result in more overs for the quicks but there is a milestone beckoning for O’Keefe, the left-arm orthodox spinner, if he can get into the action.
The 34-year-old needs five more scalps to become the 12th NSW bowler to take 200 first-class wickets.
“If you’d asked me ten or 15 years ago when I first started if I’d be able to get to that many, I probably would have laughed at you,» O’Keefe said. «Between my first and second Shield game was like five years. Hopefully I don’t stop at 200, and hopefully it’s a match-winning performance.”
NSW squad: Peter Nevill (c), Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Jack Edwards, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Steve O’Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Jason Sangha, Greg West.
WA squad: Hilton Cartwright (c), Cameron Bancroft, William Bosisto, Liam Guthrie, Aaron Hardie, Bradley Hope, Josh Inglis, Matthew Kelly, Lance Morris, Liam O’Connor, Joel Paris, Josh Philippe, Sam Whiteman.
Tom Decent is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald