Hattricks are amongst the most elusive achievements in cricket with even some of the most accomplished bowlers never managing the impressive feat. However, Queensland's Mark Steketee came ever so close to claiming one against Tasmania before a dropped catch ruined the golden opportunity.
The new Sheffield Shield season has begun in grand fashion with a bunch of Test regulars available for selection who are not part of Australia's T20 setup. When the Queensland Bulls took on the Tasmania Tigers at the Allan Border Field in Brisbane for their series opener, the hosts boasted the likes of Marnus Labuschagne, Joe Burns, and Usman Khawaja in their ranks.
Batting first, Tasmania were bundled out for a paltry 147 courtesy of three scalps by Michael Neser and a four-wicket haul for Mark Steketee. In response, Marnus and wicket-keeper Jimmy Peirson struck centuries alongside Burns' 85 to take Queensland to a resounding 458. The team was coasting to victory with Tasmania batsmen simply providing no resistance in their second outing as well but it all culminated in one of the rarest sights on a cricket field in the 35th over of the third innings.
Down to 77-5, Tigers skipper Jordan Silk was on strike against Steketee who was yet to be rewarded for his efforts in the spell. However, he produced a gem of a delivery to draw a forward defense and have Silk edge the ball to the wicket-keeper. Jarrod Freeman came in next and was received with yet another peach, with the red Kookaburra nipping inside from good length to clip the top of the off stump between his bat and pad. Steketee was running rampant and had an elusive hat trick in his sights.
It was up to Jackson Bird now to keep the bowler from achieving an impressive feat. However, he was not up to scratch as a callous push led to a thick outside edge to send the ball flying to the slip cordon. But, to Steketee's shock, the flailing fielders failed to grab on to the opportunity, leaving the pacer completely distraught. For a few moments, the play came to a standstill as the players in the slip remained grounded, unable to face up to the teeming bowler. Even Bird could not help but crack a wry smile, well aware of the golden opportunity that had slipped by from Steketee's, or rather the fielder's fingers.