For Malaysian born Stephen Norman John O’Keefe his 25th birthday present came a few days early at Bellerive Oval, Hobart, earlier today where he was playing for Australia A against the England Touriusts in only is tenth first class match.
He had already captured the wicket of Alastair Cook. He bowled Cook some flat suff, one of which was cut for four. Then he tossed one up. Cook, as is his want, predictably plonked his right foot down the track and swung his bat round it, instead of keeping his leg out of the way and hitting straight through the ball and the spin.
It looked as if O’Keefe had worked him out on the dunny.
The left arm finger spinner followed this piece of clever bowling with a maiden over against the new batsman, Pietersen. In the next over Cameron dismissed Trott. Two wickets had fallen in the space of just 15 balls and there was a sense that the balance of the game was moving a shade towards Australia A.
He then bowled another maiden to Pietersen. Cameron conceded a four to Collingwood which allowed the critical duel to continue between King Kevin and Canny O’Keefe.
He ducks his head as he bowls and is a touch round armed. Added to which he bowls from wide of the crease and has an extremely high kick from his trailing leg as he twists violently on his front foot to give him a whippy action. He is well set to deliver arm balls.
In O’Keefe’s next over Pietersen pushed the first ball defensively to mid on. To the second ball the batsman advanced and lofted the ball over wide mid-on for four. The next ball, again angled in, was shorter and flatter and Pietersen stayed inside it, forcing it off the back foot into the covers.
Ball four continued the run of arm balls and, again, Pietersen stayed inside the ball on the back foot with the off and middle stumps visible to O’Keefe.
The old Pietersen with his pronounced trigger movement would have already been positioned across his stumps from which he would have played these last two balls into the on side, perhaps with the same result as ball two. But the new Pietersen has abandoned his old Unique Vantage Point (UVP) that brought him so much success playing through the on-side at will.
Redford O’Keefe, the set up was now very nearly complete. The fifth ball was bowled from wide of the crease with an even wider arm angling the ball into Pietersen who played defensively forward yet once more inside-out.
Now for the Sting. Ball six was bowled from a similar angle, but this one turned, to beat the outside edge despite Pietersen’s belated effort to follow the ball with the bat and his body.
This superb photograph shows the creased skin of his top wrist as it twisted to follow the ball and the raised heel of his right boot as he made his adjustment, but it was to no avail, the bail had already hit the back of his helmet.