Stephen O’Keefe has had a shocker, a real shocker. It is now up to him to get his life together before a successful cricket career comes to an abrupt halt.
News emerged last week that O’Keefe had been fined $20,000 and suspended from the NSW team for all next season’s Matador Cup. He also has cast a dark shadow over his recent successes for the Aussie team.
Reports have come to the surface of his ‘alleged’ drunken behaviour at the end of the NSW cricket awards night which included a series of highly inappropriate insults directed at a female cricketer and other NSW luminaries. It should be noted that what he actually said has not been made public but what details are on the grapevine paint a pretty grim picture.
It is a familiar tale when a party-goer has a few too many beverages, makes a fool of themselves and wakes up full of regret. But for a current Australian cricketer to do this?
An Australian cricketer coming off a successful return to the Aussie side after injury and after copping a $10,000 fine last year for abusing a bouncer? It is sad and unbelievable.
Some may say: Where were his mates? Why wasn’t he put in a cab and sent home before he endangered his career? But O’Keefe is a 32-year-old man, he is old enough to be responsible for his own actions and now must seek redemption again.
I am still shocked about the events that have apparently transpired. All summer there had been so much anticipation about his return to the side which came to fruition when he cleaned up India with 12/70 in the recent series.
In the small dealings I have had with O’Keefe he has always come across as a nice man who deals with children particularly well. This is why this behaviour is even more perplexing.
One can only wonder what his former flatmate and now Test skipper Steve Smith is thinking about SOK’s shocker and how this will affect his future selection.
What seems clear from a distance is that alcohol is at the core of his problems and he needs help. Speaking on the penalty, O’Keefe said “I accept the sanctions imposed by Cricket Australia and Cricket NSW and welcome the chance to receive specialist counselling.
“I have a big challenge ahead and I am determined to meet it with actions, not just words.”
I really hope it is not too late to save O’Keefe’s career and he gets the professional help he needs.
It would be easy for the cricket family to cut him adrift but instead he will need allies in his battle with his demons and his long road back to the Australian Test team.