Photo Credit: Brisbane Heat
Long before he was the X-factor for the Brisbane Heat, Xavier Bartlett was the hero of the hallway.
The tall timber fast bowler grew up in Adelaide and terrorised his Dad Kym, a former cricketer and AFL player, in hotly contested cricket battles inside the family’s home.
As he got older, Bartlett became a competitive swimmer and briefly flirted with the idea of pursuing that passion but cricket was always going to win out.
“My Dad had played cricket and AFL and when I was growing up, we started playing cricket in the hallway of our home in Adelaide,” Bartlett said.
“It was before and after childcare and as I got older, it was after school.
“Mum wasn’t too pleased about it, we used to wreck a few things.
“My two younger sisters didn’t really get a go.
“I also did competitive swimming, went to state carnivals and won a few medals.
“When the Olympics were on, I always watched it with high hopes as the Aussies always did well at swimming.
“But even though I loved my swimming, it was always going to be cricket for me.”
At 192cm, Bartlett is a towering figure in any cricket side.
His journey to become an important player for the Heat has been an interesting one – in the early days after moving to the Gold Coast he used to car pool with great mate Matt Kuhnemann to get to training in Brisbane.
Bartlett first came into the Heat fold at age 17 as an injury replacement and spent that time in awe of the ‘Bash Brothers’ Chris Lynn and Brendon McCullum.
“I had watched the Bash Brothers on TV for years and was amazed at what they could do,” Bartlett said.
“And then to see it close-up was unbelievable, but perhaps not when you are trying to bowl to them in the nets and they whack it back at you.
“When I first started training with the Heat, I wasn’t quite up to it as I was quite young and just finishing school.
“But it was great to rub shoulders with some legends of the game.”
Bartlett, 24, is first and foremost a ferocious fast bowler who gets the ball to swing, but an injury history which has included several stress fractures has at times provided a silver lining.
One of the benefits was it allowed him to spend time playing as a batsman in club cricket and working on becoming the allrounder that he craves to be.
Bartlett wants to value-add to the team wherever possible.
“At the start when the ball is new, my job is just try to swing it and take wickets up top,” he said.
“Then when the ball stops swinging, it is about hedging your bets.
“Some batsmen are so good that they hit your best ball for six anyway, so you might as well try to be aggressive and take a wicket.
“I have had my fair share of injuries but some of them have allowed me time to work on my batting to strengthen my game.
“I want to add any value I can to the team.
“I’ve been lucky enough that my injuries have allowed me to keep batting in club cricket and I’ve got a few opportunities higher up the order.
“It is something I want to keep working on and hopefully it helps the team get a few more runs.”
Bartlett, whose effort of 3-18 in the Knockout BBL Final against Melbourne Renegades was a career high as the Heat made their push for the final, says the baggy green remains the pinnacle of cricket and one day he hopes to wear one proudly.
In the meantime, he singles out the first Big Bash wicket of his career as a major career highlight.
“You always remember your first one and mine was Marcus Stonis,” Bartlett said.
“I got him caught behind when he tried to smack me out of the park.
“It was lucky that he edged it.
“If he had connected, it would have gone 100m into the crowd.”