O'Keefe says pace will be key in Shield final

He is the leading wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield this season but NSW spinner Stephen O'Keefe believes pace bowling will play a major role in deciding whether the Blues will lift the trophy.

O'Keefe and Test off-spinner Nathan Lyon loom as the trump cards for the Blues on a Manuka Oval pitch destined to take turn later in the game in the final against Western Australia, starting Friday.

While Lyon has clearly established himself as Australia's No.1 slow bowling option, O'Keefe has erased any doubt this summer that he is solely a short-form specialist.

The Australia Twenty 20 representative has excelled in the first-class arena, taking 40 wickets from nine games this season at the impressive average of 20.48.

NSW have been dealt a blow, with left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger ruled out of the Shield final after being called up to Australia's squad for the World Twenty20 titles.

However, O'Keefe believes the Blues have the depth in the fast-bowling ranks to cover for his absence and continue their domination from last week's win over the Warriors.

"Given that 15 of the wickets in the last game in our side were taken by the quicks, it shows spin played a part but it's not everything,'' O'Keefe said.

"Nathan Lyon's a quality spinner and Australia's best spinner by a long way.

"All the bowlers will have to step up, including the quicks.''

Josh Hazlewood, Sean Abbott, Trent Copeland and Gurinder Sandhu have been included in NSW's extended 13-man squad, while all-rounder Moises Henriques will also play a valuable role with the ball.

WA have also been boosted with the addition of Mitchell Marsh in its 14-man squad, although it is expected he will play only as a batsman because of a side strain.

Henriques was with the Test squad in South Africa and provides the Blues with a potential match-winner with both bat and ball.

"We've noticed in our team we're missing that all-rounder and Moises offers that,'' O'Keefe said.

"To have someone who's had international experience, it's going to be great to have him back.

"The younger guys look up to him and he sets a great example for everyone in the team.''

The Blues are chasing their first Shield title since 2007-08.

Since then, they have undergone a dramatic overhaul on and off the field, led by the sacking of coach Anthony Stuart at the end of 2012 and resignation of chief executive David Gilbert earlier this year.

"As sportspeople, we understand nothing's guaranteed and you're very dispensable if things aren't going well,'' O'Keefe said.

"Unfortunately, we weren't hitting our straps last year. I certainly don't think it was Anthony's fault or Dave Gilbert, who I still consider a great mentor.

"It's important as a team we've been able to regroup and show our wares on the cricket field.''

Both NSW and WA will attend the state cricket awards at Manuka Oval on Wednesday before holding training sessions in the afternoon.

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