Former Australia left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe has praised the team management’s decision to hand out Test debut to tweaker Todd Murphy in the opening game against India, saying the 22-year-old’s “overspin and drop” will come in handy on turning subcontinental tracks. The bespectacled Murphy, who was presented the Baggy Green by fellow spinner Nathan Lyon in Nagpur on Thursday, is playing his first international match for Australia in any format and his selection ahead of Ashton Agar and leg-spinner Mitchell Swepson did come as a bit of a surprise.
While Agar has played five Tests and is a T20I stalwart, Swepson has donned the Baggy Green in four Tests, besides playing 11 white-ball matches.
Murphy, on the other hand, has played just seven first-class games but has been impressive in the Sheffield Shield.
“He (Murphy) is something very, very special. I haven’t been this excited about an off-spinner since Nathan Lyon,” O’Keefe said on SEN Radio.
“I think he bowls with overspin and drop. Not only that, he’s got a lot of skills to his armoury, he can bowl square seam which is important over there… Todd Murphy is the guy in his brief cricket journey so far who can use all of those skills in certain parts of the game and really exploit them.” O’Keefe, who has 35 wickets in nine Test, also added that Murphy has in his repertoire a few more variations apart from his classic off-spin, and this makes him a likely heir to Lyon in the years to come.
“I think what you’ll see with Todd is he can bowl the classic off-spinner along with three or four other (types of deliveries). I can see him in the next 12-18 months being a suitable replacement for Nathan Lyon and I think we’ll see that straight away in this first Test.” However, O’Keefe hoped Murphy does not succumb to pressure as Indian batters will try to unsettle the youngster early on in the match.
“Todd’s going to have to bowl tight, he’s going to have to bowl straight and he’s going to have to do that containing role because the last thing you want over there is two spinners that are going at four an over there, particularly if you only have two quicks,” said OKeefe.
“This is what India will do, they’ll put the young spinner under the pump straight away. I just hope that Todd can produce his best and really lock down an end and do what is required to support the other three bowlers.”
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