Essex sign Mark Steketee for early-season Championship stint

Sheffield Shield's leading wicket-taker Chelmsford-bound following Australia's Pakistan tour

Mark Steketee took five wickets, Queensland vs New South Wales, Sheffield Shield, Gabba, February 10, 2022

Mark Steketee is the leading wicket-taker this Shield season  •  Getty Images

Essex have signed long-term target Mark Steketee for the first six matches of the 2022 County Championship as they look to regain the title they won in 2019.
Steketee, 28, is the Sheffield Shield's leading wicket-taker this season and his career-best form earned him a call-up to Australia's Test squad for the ongoing tour of Pakistan.
He will link up with the rest of the Essex squad after that tour and is expected to be available for six games, starting with the season opener against Kent on April 7.
"I'm really pleased to be joining up with Essex for the first half of the LV= Insurance County Championship campaign," Steketee said.
"I've always wanted to get over to England to play some county cricket. A lot of my team-mates in Australia have had the opportunity to play in the County Championship and all of them only have positive things to say."
Essex are expecting to compete for the title this season after a disappointing 2021 season in which they missed out on the six-team top division but won Division Two at a canter. They were champions in 2017 and 2019, and also won the Bob Willis Trophy in 2020.
Peter Siddle, who had played for the club in three of the last four seasons, has signed for Somerset for 2022 and Anthony McGrath, Essex's head coach, said that he was keen to sign a fast bowler to complement a seam attack featuring Jamie Porter, Sam Cook and Shane Snater.
"I'm thrilled we've managed to secure Mark's services," McGrath said. "He's someone we identified quite a while ago and his numbers for Queensland this year are phenomenal.
"We were keen to bring in another seam bowler to complement our bowling attack and I've got no doubt he'll be a great addition."
Simon Harmer will be Essex's other overseas player in the early stages of the Championship season and signed a four-year, all-format contract extension at the end of last year - though his availability may be limited at times this summer following his surprise South Africa Test recall.