Australia Test opener Usman Khawaja has signed with Brisbane Heat for the upcoming BBL season and will captain his new club when available after departing Sydney Thunder for family reasons.
Khawaja lives in Brisbane with his family and is Queensland’s Sheffield Shield and Marsh Cup captain but had remained with Thunder in the BBL up until now.
Khawaja’s move to Heat had long been touted after he announced he was departing Thunder in February. Khawaja noted at the time it was “the toughest call” he had made as a cricketer having been a foundation member of Sydney Thunder since the BBL started in 2011-12. He was a key figure in Thunder’s lone title in 2015-16 scoring 104 not out in the semi-final against Adelaide Strikers and 70 off 40 in the winning final against Melbourne Stars. He also captained Thunder last season.
“I always thought I would finish off as a Thunder player, but it is funny how things change,” Khawaja said.
“I’ve said it for a long time, that Brisbane is home, Queensland is home, and to be here, captain of Queensland, and now joining the Heat – it is really exciting.
“I know I will be playing in front of my family, and a home crowd, when I am at the Gabba or Metricon Stadium with the Heat. I love the Thunder and the Thunder Nation, but at the same time, this is a change that comes at the right time.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, it was a very tough one, but the timing just feels right. I like to say I used to be an honorary Queensland and now I am one.
“I have been loosely tied with the Heat through my Queensland roles for several years, and so I am looking forward to the challenge of trying something new by joining them now.
“I do love playing in the BBL and now I am with the Heat for the coming years, I am very excited.”
Khawaja’s move to Heat fills the void left by Chris Lynn after Heat elected not to re-sign the BBL’s all-time leading runscorer following 11 seasons at the club.
Khawaja will be Heat’s captain when he is available but he is set to miss the first part of the upcoming BBL season while on Test duty for Australia. He is set to be available to captain Heat following the completion of the Sydney Test against South Africa on January 8, 2023, with the BBL season likely to run until the end of January. Jimmy Peirson, who captained Heat last season, will lead Heat when Khawaja is unavailable.
Khawaja is passionate about the BBL and was vocal about the future direction of the competition stating that Cricket Australia needs to consider private investment in the near term.