MICHAEL CLARKE: His sacking has confused former Test spinner Kerry O?Keefe.
MICHAEL CLARKE: His sacking has confused former Test spinner Kerry O?Keefe.

Confused? O'Keefe is

By STEVE SPINKS

sport@northernstar.com.au

FORMER Australian cricketer and respected commentator Kerry O'Keefe is confused by the axing of Michael Clarke from the Australian Test team.

O'Keefe, who will speak at a Sportsmen's Dinner hosted by the Tintenbar-East Ballina Cricket Club on December 3, doesn't understand how players are continually losing their positions even though Australia are winning.

Clarke was dropped from the team on Monday following a drop in form which has seen him go 12 months without scoring a century.

This was despite the fact Australia crushed the West Indies by nine wickets to win the Frank Worrell Trophy.

"It's a bit confusing that Australia keep winning and we keep dropping people," O'Keefe told The Northern Star.

"Normally when you lose, people get dropped, but already we've seen Katich (Simon) and Clarke go even though we won the last two Tests.

"I think the selectors want to freshen the side up, but equally Clarke was a part of that freshness originally.

"The injury to Langer (Justin) opened the door to Hussey (Michael) and he's grabbed it with both hands."

Hussey, a 30-year-old from Western Australia, made his maiden Test century at Hobart.

However, O'Keefe doesn't think it will be long until Clarke is back in the baggy green: "I'm a big fan of Michael Clarke and I just think he possibly has to address a few aspects of his game if he wants to bat at number four for Australia. We all saw how well organised Brad Hodge was on debut (in Hobart) and I don't sense that Michael Clarke has that organisation in his game."

Another talking point at the moment is the brilliant form of NSW leg-spinner Stuart MacGill. "I think his success highlights the error of not playing him during the Ashes," O'Keefe said.

"He's one of our best three bowlers and he gets people out.

"In England our attack looked blunt and there was Stuey sitting on the sideline."

O'Keefe's speaking engagement on the Far North Coast will no doubt bring back some memories ? not all of them good ? from his days playing World Series Cricket at Oakes Oval, Lismore. "I remember a day-nighter and I had to bat in the grey twilight during a period when the lights were like 10 blokes holding candles," he recalled.

"I couldn't see the ball and it wasn't a pleasant experience.

"Another time I remember a bowler cutting us in two on a minefield up there and the curator was going around saying what a great pitch it was.

"Most of us were in fear for our lives ... I don't have many great memories of World Series Cricket."

Tickets are still available for the Sportsmen's Dinner which will be held at the Ballina Jockey Club from 6.45pm on Saturday, December 3.

Tickets are $80 which include drinks and a three-course meal and there will also be auctions of various sporting memorabilia. Inquiries: Brett Crawford on 0419 815 259.



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