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Shirin Sadikot in Johannesburg

O’Keefe cherishes ‘surreal’ win

Sydney Sixers all-rounder relished the bigger roles given to him with bat and ball

Steve O’Keefe has relished the importance he’s been given by his captain right through the Karbonn Smart Champions League Twenty20 2012. The left-arm spinner/all-rounder has flourished under the leadership of Brad Haddin who has trusted him with bigger roles with both bat and ball.
“That’s the thing with Brad. He’ll throw you the ball and ask you to bat wherever he thinks is right,” O’Keefe said fondly of his skipper after the Sydney Sixers claimed to coveted CLT20 trophy by beating the Highveld Lions in the final at Wanderers.

“I opened the bowling today after opening the batting in the last game. To bowl in this attack that has four quick bowlers and to be trusted to play a bigger role in a batting line-up that has such great depth is a privilege. To win like this is a bonus,” he said.

For O’Keefe, the CLT20 is much more than a T20 tournament played by domestic teams from around the world. For him, it’s a chance to “play at the international stage despite being in a domestic team.”

“No other format or tournament would’ve allowed us to come on this big a stage and play in front of packed crowds in South Africa, playing for Sydney. It’s something to cherish for guys like me who might not get to play for Australia,” O’Keefe said.

If the mere participation in this tournament is so special, how would O’Keefe describe the feeling of winning it? “Its’ surreal,” he said. “You come down to play this big tournament in South Africa and you’re playing the Highveld Lions on their home ground. The crowd is getting behind their boys and to win the final against them, it doesn’t get any better.”

While the people of Johannesburg have been loyally behind their team right through the tournament, O’Keefe said the other teams too fed off the excitement in the stands.

“The crowd’s been very receptive and it’s been a family atmosphere. The young kids coming with their parents and sharing their passion for cricket and it’s a really good thing for the game. It was also nice to have a South African team take on an Aussie side.”

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