Thursday, February 2, 2023

Brisbane Heat: From the Bush to the Bash – Steketee in Lights

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Mark Steketee began his Brisbane Heat career as the ultimate road warrior.

Making road trips of more than two hours in his trusty Ute from country Warwick to train and play in the Brisbane big smoke now seems like a lifetime ago.

But the versatile fast bowler wouldn’t have had it any other way.

As a new father of a three-month-old baby girl, Steketee doesn’t get the chance to get back to the country as much as he would like.

But as he approaches another season of Big Bash cricket where he will be a vital cog in the Heat’s bowling engine room, Steketee remembers his early Heat days with great fondness.

“I wouldn’t change those days for the world,” Steketee says.

“To get an opportunity through Nick Buchanan’s unfortunate run of injuries was unbelievable for me personally.

“I moved up to Brisbane pretty soon after I made my debut for the Heat but there were some long road trips.

“And I’d basically been hitting the road to play cricket since I was 15.

“Warwick cricket went downhill a bit in juniors so Mum was driving me to Toowoomba to play club cricket at senior level and I also played a season on the Gold Coast.

“I try to get back to the country, but it’s a bit harder for me now as my partner and I have had a little girl.

“Becoming a father is certainly a life-changer but I guess in some ways I haven’t changed much, I’m still a bit of a kid at heart myself.”

It was 2013-14 when Steketee made his Heat debut and he’s been around a lot of excellent fast bowlers ever since.

He says there have been plenty who have made an impact on him, but he has particularly enjoyed being coached by former Australian paceman Andy Bichel.

Steketee has been a fine performer for an extended period and he is a no-nonsense, blue collar fast man who simply gets the job done.

As such, words like under-rated have sometimes been used when describing him and there are times when it appears his best work does not perhaps receive the accolades it deserves.

Not that it worries the 28-year-old.

“It’s not up to me to rate my performances, people are going to have their opinions,” Steketee says.

“Someone out there is probably going to think you are doing something wrong, no matter what you do.

“And then there are other people who are going to think you are going well.

“For me, it’s more about surrounding myself with good coaches and being true to myself about how I am actually going.

“It’s about blocking out the outside noise and keeping true to what’s going on.”

Steketee has had an evolving role with the Heat but has a clear idea of how he will be best used in the new season.

At times Steketee has been a Jack-of-all-trades, but feels he is at his best in short-form cricket when he is tossed the new ball.

“My role has changed a lot since I was a young bloke,” he says.

“I think when I have had the best success has been when I’ve been really dominant with the new ball.

“I guess the power surge period has thrown a spanner in the works, people don’t really understand how hard that’s made the game for bowlers.

“And especially if there are two set batsman and you have to bowl to them on flat wickets and short boundaries with only two fieldsman out.

“I do think I am at my best doing my role with the new ball.

“And then if I have to bowl a power surge over or one at the death, I will try to limit the damage in the power surge over and be as clinical as I can at the death.”

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