Steve O'Keefe news leaves cricket fans saddened amid stunning BBL display for Sixers

The 39-year-old has confirmed that this will be his last season in professional cricket.

Steve O'Keefe, pictured here in the BBL.
Steve O'Keefe starred for the Sixers against the Thunder after confirming his retirement at the end of the BBL season. Image: Getty

Cricket fans and commentators are paying tribute to Steve O'Keefe after the Aussie veteran confirmed on Friday night that he'll retire at the end of the BBL season. The 39-year-old produced a brilliant display in the Sydney Sixers' crucial win over the Thunder at the SCG, claiming 3-13 from four overs to help his side book a spot in the BBL finals.

O'Keefe has been weighing up retirement for a number of years, and confirmed on Friday night that this season will be his last. The former Test player is moving to Lennox Head on the NSW north coast in April with his fiancee - a move that will take him away from all training bases.

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Sixers teammates have joked previously that they'd be able to convince O'Keefe to go around again next year in the BBL, but the left-armer announced on Friday that he won't be doing that. "This is it. This is the last year," he said during a chat with Channel 7.

"I spoke to the guys at the start of the game that this would be it. It was my worst-kept secret. I think most people have figured out that there wasn't much chance unless I could borrow David Warner's helicopter.

"It's done, It's just nice to feel really fulfilled. I've had a great night and if we don't win a game from here, personally, I feel really fulfilled in cricket."

O'Keefe made his debut for NSW in 2005, and played his first international in a T20 for Australia against Pakistan in 2010. He played nine Test matches for Australia, famously claiming 12 wickets in a match against India in Pune in 2017.

Steve O'Keefe, pictured here playing Test cricket for Australia.
Steve O'Keefe played nine Test matches for Australia. Image: Getty

Cricket world pays tribute to Steve O'Keefe after retirement confirmed

On Friday night he showed he hasn't lost anything, claiming the key wickets of David Warner, Alex Hales and Cameron Bancroft to help the Sixers take down their arch-rivals by 19 runs. But not even the man-of-the-match performance can convince O'Keefe to keep playing past his 40th birthday.

"My time is well and truly up," he said. "The little things are the hardest. The training, the stuff in between and preparing. I just lost a lot of enthusiasm.

"I find myself drifting off in team meetings and you start looking at training schedules. It's becoming a bit pointless if you're not connected. We've got a great bunch of young kids around. Any player when they finish up they want to feel like the club's in a great space.

"With (spinner) Joel Davies, they've also got Todd Murphy. There is a spot open for another spinner. Jack Edwards is really coming on. This club's really got sustainable success written all over it for the next little bit."

Steve O'Keefe, pictured here after taking the wicket of David Warner in the BBL.
Steve O'Keefe celebrates after taking the wicket of David Warner. (Photo by Jason McCawley - CA/Cricket Australia via Getty Images) (Cricket Australia via Getty Imag)

O'Keefe is the third-highest wicket-taker in Sydney Sixers history (behind Sean Abbott and Ben Dwarshuis), and has the fourth-most wickets all-time among spinners in BBL (behind Adam Zampa, Cameron Boyce and Rashid Khan). On Thursday he told reporters that he'd love to get into coaching and commentary after his retirement.

Fans were left saddened to hear the news about O'Keefe. Tributes and messages of congratulations came flooding in on social media.

with AAP

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