New Delhi, Jan 13 (SocialNews.XYZ) Former Australia spinner O'Keefe believes there has been "way too harsh" criticism of left-arm spin all-rounder Ashton Agar's performance at the SCG Test against South Africa.
Playing in a Test match for the first time since 2017, Agar struggled for rhythm and returned with figures of 0/58 in a rain-hit drawn match. Though he didn't have an impressive outing at Sydney, Agar was still named as one of four spinners for the Test tour of India, starting from February 9 in Nagpur.
"Oh yeah, it was three wickets that fell to spin in that Test. He got to bowl 20 overs, his first game in the Test arena (in Australia) ... on a track that didn't offer anything, really. There wasn't a lot of turn, there were some footmarks there for Nathan Lyon, but they were footmarks outside of the eye-line."
"To sort of judge a guy on 20 overs on what was basically a third day (pitch), which is probably when batting is at its best on the centre of the track (is harsh). If that game had gone on for two more days, I'm sure it would have looked different," said O'Keefe to SEN Radio.
O'Keefe called for Agar to be judged only once he gets a genuine opportunity to show his skills in India. "(Keshav) Maharaj as an experienced bowler around the world took 1/108, Simon Harmer -- who has 800 First Class wickets - took 0/109 and Nathan Lyon took two (wickets)."
"Expecting Ashton to come out and go, 'Oh well, this is how he's going to bowl', I think was way too harsh. I know he's a very, very good bowler and I think he'll do a great job in India. Let's judge him over the full length of a match, with two innings, in conditions that suit, and then we can probably get a fair assessment on him."
Agar's previous white-ball experience of playing in India and his ability to turn the ball away from right-handers is something which O'Keefe feels can make him an ideal partner for off-spinner Nathan Lyon in India.
"The Indian side will have - I think - majority right-handers with Rishabh Pant probably out. I think the whole top six will be right-handers, which lends itself to thinking you're going to need a left-arm finger spinner in there to start. I think Ashton -- with all of the experience of going over - will be the right man to get it done."