Stephen Norman John O'Keefe is the full name of 32-year-old Australian left-arm orthodox bowler, who gave a befitting reply to all those critiques who beleived he cannot spin the cricket ball. Busting all such myths about his bowling capabilities, this man charmed everyone with his spin bowling against India in Pune Test.
India, the no. 1 ranked Test team in the world, with likes of Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, Cheteswar Pujara and KL Rahul who all are deemed as specialist players of spin bowling, were completely deceived by the 'magical' spinner O'Keefe.
He may consider himself to be very lucky to get 12 wickets in the match against India but his fortune wasn't the same before this match. He was considered the most unfortunate man in Australian cricket post-Shane Warne era. Australia after Shane Warne tried out more than 10 spinners but this man was always over-looked even with far superiors figures than those selected in the national team.
He was pigeonholed to be a white-ball bowler. Even his coach at the academy demoralised him and called a 'pie-chucker'. He was told he can't spin, too slow, too fast, not accurate, injury prone. He just wasn't good enough to find a place in the national team.
But his luck changed a bit when he was named in Australia's Test squad to play Pakistan in the UAE in 2014, following the Sheffield Shield in which he topped the wicket tally with 41 victims. A solid lower order batsman could no longer be ignored. But his luck wasn't that good yet as he just got to play four Tests in four series with no momentum.
But then finally he was picked for India tour and played in the first Test against the hosts in Pune and rest is the history. He took 12 wickets for 70 runs, highest by any Australian bowler against India in their own backyard.
He surprised Virat Kohli and dissmissed him in a manner he rarely gets out. When O'Keefe was bowling in Pune, it appeared he will take a wicket on every ball. No Indian batsman was able to pick him, every bowl he threw appeared unplayable for Indian batsmen.
Not moved an inch from all the criticism and hard luck, a confident O'Keefe says, "I know what I can do, I know what I've got and how to go about using what I've got."
Giving the credit of his wonderful performance to his new coach Sriram, he says, "I think the biggest influence has been Sri (Sriram). I've worked with him in Chennai in the 'A' series. I come on the field, I get to speak with him, he's a local so he knows the conditions. I get to spend lunch time bowling with him. And he understands how to bowl in these conditions."
The criticism and pressures of the sport have forced many to give up, but someone like O'Keefe stands strong, unmoved and fights on. His match winning bowling performance on Friday against the Indians is testimony to his mental fortitude and strong mind-set.