Part 4 of the Tyler Lewis articles this week interviews Carlton wicket keeper Brayden Stepien, whose form in the Victorian Premier Cricket and Vic SUPER SLAM competitions resulted in a call-up to the Victorian 2nd XI and Melbourne Renegades teams during the season.
Brayden Stepien is smashing bowling attacks everywhere on his way to becoming a household name.
The damaging left-hander has fulfilled his potential this season, and the important people are starting to take notice.
While he has been crunching the ball for a long time, Stepien has done all the right things in season 2019/20, which all started with how he approached the year.
“Doing the future program (in the preseason) with the Vics, I built a lot of confidence,” he said.
“I learned a lot about my game, adapting well with all the coaches.
“We had Micky Lewis there as well, they helped guide me through this season and I just felt really comfortable with my game coming into this year.
“Everything happens so quick, you just have to take it with a grain of salt,” Stepien said.
After crunching 104 from 93 balls in the first match after Christmas and a scintillating 62 not out from just 19 deliveries in the space of eight days for Carlton, Stepien’s form was too hard to ignore, resulting in a Big Bash League debut for the Melbourne Renegades.
In his first match, Stepien stood behind the stumps to Steve Smith and in his second AB De Villiers; while he had to pinch himself playing against some of the world’s greatest, the 22-year-old already found himself doing that in the dressing room.
“Everything happened so quickly, all of a sudden you finish preseason and next minute you’re getting a phone call saying ‘you are going to play for the Melbourne Renegades’,” he said.
“It all happened quickly, you don’t think about those things, you just try to do everything in the moment.
“You always dream of those things happening, but you just worry about what you can control.
“You definitely have to pinch yourself at opportunities like that don’t you.
“It was an unbelievable experience, even to sit in the same changeroom as Aaron Finch, Dan Christian, you have Kane Richardson there as well.
“It is a pretty surreal feeling playing in the same team as guys like that,” Stepien said.
While he played the final two matches for the Renegades, Stepien wasn’t required to prove his worth with the willow, which sparked deep discussion through social media outlets. But for the young gloveman, while the support is appreciated, the rest is white noise.
“It is always good to have support,” he said.
“Even people back home in Bendigo, when I got called up to the Renegades, it is unbelievable how much support you get.
“I always like to thank those who put out the support as well.
“I try not to look at social media too much, everyone has their own opinion, but there is only a handful of opinions that really matter,” Stepien said.
Stepien has proven he is one of the most damaging white ball players in the state, but now he is working on his form with the red ball, admitting it once wasn’t his favourite form of cricket.
“I think it is just being adaptable at the right time,” he said.
“I have always been known for my white ball cricket, it is just now focusing on batting for longer periods of time and doing the right things at the right time.
“I have really enjoyed my red ball cricket lately, I used to not like the longer format but now I am adjusting.
“I am adjusting, getting a bit older, knowing my game a bit more, and I think it is just the right way to go about it.
“I am starting to really enjoy it, (and) I am looking forward to express to the four day format now,” Stepien said.
Stepien will be a crucial figure for his beloved Carlton this week when it hosts Essendon in a do-or-die elimination final.