‘He would have made it hard for me to keep my spot’
Steve O'Keefe believes he may have been ushered into first-class retirement if Will Somerville remained at NSW, such is the New Zealand offspinner's talent.
Somerville, who moved from Sydney to Auckland in 2018, has replaced injured spearhead Trent Boult in NZ's Test squad and is expected to be recalled for the series finale.
An SCG call-up would be a dream in several senses for the dual citizen, who was born in Wellington then shifted to Sydney at age nine.
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The 35-year-old moved back to New Zealand as a teenager for university studies, made his first-class debut with Otago then returned to Sydney for work.
The chartered accountant earned a Sheffield Shield call-up in 2014 and snared a total of 48 wickets at 25.29 for NSW, including a haul of 8-136 at the SCG against a Queensland XI featuring Joe Burns and Marnus Labuschagne.
O'Keefe declared his former Blues and Sydney Sixers teammate would be a handful for Australia in the third Test.
"He took bundles of five-fors for the Blues. He gets lovely bounce, puts enough revs on the ball to get good spin," O'Keefe said.
"If he stayed around it would have been a real challenge to keep him out of the Shield team, I reckon it would have been hard going to keep my spot.
"He's world class. He showed that against Pakistan in the UAE (on debut), where he won them a Test.
"I wish him all the best. Hopefully he takes a five-for in a losing side, that'd be the ideal scenario."
O'Keefe, who has claimed more wickets this Shield season than any spinner, added his former teammate was a "bloody good bowler and an even better bloke".
"If you had to pick a good bloke XI, he'd be your No.1," the left-arm tweaker said.
O'Keefe played nine Tests for Australia, with the veteran's prolific 2017 tour of India coinciding with Somerville's purple patch for the Blues.
Somerville has fond memories of learning from O'Keefe and Nathan Lyon at NSW training.
"I bowled a lot with SOK, Beau Casson was our bowling coach, and I always chatted to Nathan when he was around and tried to feed off the GOAT," he said.
"I was very proud to receive my baggy blue, that was a dream in itself ... I was loving playing for NSW.
"I wanted to play more cricket and that forced the move."