Steve O'Keefe is back in favour with national selectors.
Steve O'Keefe is back in favour with national selectors. Aijaz Rahi

Come back spinner: O'Keefe gets surprise Test recall

Australia has dropped a major selection bombshell, with Steve O'Keefe called back from the dead to replace Josh Hazlewood in Bangladesh.

O'Keefe thought his Test career was over after he was left out of the original squad in favour of younger left-arm spinner Ashton Agar.

The rhetoric used by the Australian camp also suggested the end had come, as they emphasised their belief that O'Keefe's performances fell away in India and that it was time to look to the future with Agar.

But O'Keefe is now in line to add another Test to his portfolio in the second Test in Chittagong, with selectors to at least consider a three pronged spin attack.

It's been an agonising few months for O'Keefe after he was embroiled in a controversial incident following a NSW cricket awards ceremony and got himself banned for the upcoming domestic one-day competition.

However, selectors always insisted their decision to cut him was purely due to performance and not behaviour, and now he is back.

With Hazlewood to head home with a sore side, selectors felt they had all the pace bowling they needed with Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird in the squad and wanted an extra spin option.

The decision to recall O'Keefe makes perfect sense when you consider his brilliant performances in India, but it seems somewhat unusual now, especially given rookie leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson is already on this tour and trying to earn his opportunity.

O'Keefe was captain Steve Smith's go-to man in India earlier this year, and although Nathan Lyon and Agar have bowled superbly - Australia may have felt they missed a spinner that can simply be left alone to dry up runs at one end.

Hilton Cartwright has emerged as a strong chance to come into the side should O'Keefe play.

That said, it's still hard to see how Bird gets left out of the second Test, with Cummins talking up his stablemate's chances of coming into the side.

News Corp Australia

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