Queensland’s Mark Steketee gave Test selectors plenty to think about by claiming seven wickets against South Australia on Saturday.
Would-be Test bowler Mark Steketee has given selectors seven reasons to consider him for a place in the Ashes squad this summer.
After their star-studded batting order turned in a dismal performance on day one against South Australia, the Queenslanders needed a hero at Adelaide Oval.
They found one in Steketee.
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The 27-year-old shrugged off the absence of fellow Test aspirant and dad-to-be Michael Neser and showed exactly why he was called up to the Test squad for the cancelled tour of South Africa.
With a career-best haul of 7-44, Steketee almost single-handedly kept the Bulls in the contest on a wicket that proved much more bowler-friendly than Karen Rolton Oval, which hosted the previous two Sheffield Shield matches of the summer.
On his way to becoming just the fourth Queenslander since the turn of the century to take seven wickets in a Shield innings, Steketee dismissed both South Australian openers as well as in-form captain Travis Head.
“There was enough in the wicket there for us to put it in good areas and let the ball do the work. It was my day today, it could be someone else’s tomorrow,” Steketee said at stumps.
“It’s just one of those days. I think I’ve bowled pretty well so far this game but ‘career best’ … those are things you look back on later down the track, they don’t really sink in straight away, I don’t think.”
He won’t beat any of Australia’s “big three” quicks (Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc) into the XI for the Ashes, but Steketee’s name will be right in the mix as an injury replacement, provided he keeps this stunning form up.
Steketee has another trump card in his favour, too — unlike those preparing for the T20 World Cup, he has the chance to acclimatise to red ball cricket ahead of the Ashes.
However, Steketee insisted he hadn’t been thinking about his chances of donning the baggy green for the first time.
“The Australian bowling stocks are unbelievable at the moment,” he said.
“It’s not really on my mind, I’m just here to play cricket for Queensland and I’m enjoying doing that.”
Dropped from the Test side after last year’s Boxing Day Test, Head is fighting tooth-and-nail for a chance to represent his country this summer.
The man so often touted as a future captain of the Test side continued his purple patch of form by putting the Redbacks in the box seat to chase down Queensland’s total of 152.
His 55 runs from 62 deliveries might not compare with his last two totals (163 and 230 runs) on paper, but the speedy half-ton helped the Redbacks recover from two wickets lost late on the first day and ensured they would surpass the Bulls’ total early on the second.
Head paved the way for Harry Nielsen, the son of former Australian national side coach Tim, to topscore with 71 runs.
The Redbacks were all out for 280 and had already dismissed former Test star Joe Burns as well as his fellow opener Bryce Street before stumps.
The stage was set for Marnus Labuschagne to redeem himself after throwing his wicket away in the first innings.
Originally published as Mark Steketee picks up seven wickets on day two of Queensland’s clash with South Australia