In-form paceman has been soaking up lessons from a master after being carefully managed by Queensland Cricket
Bartlett credits Bichel with heating up his BBL form
Brisbane Heat paceman Xavier Bartlett is in the best form of his BBL career and credits bowling coach Andy Bichel with instilling self-belief and technical nous.
The 24-year-old took 3-30 in a player-of-the-match display in the one-run win over the Hobart Hurricanes on Sunday night at the Gabba, which took him top of the BBL wicket aggregate for the season with 13 scalps.
Bartlett has suffered stress fractures in his back since his teenage years, but has shown resilience and commitment to bounce back each time.
He returned from a stint playing league cricket in England in the 2023 Australian winter with back soreness.
The Queensland brains trust decided to rest him from the Bulls' initial Sheffield Shield games, with a view to getting him at his peak for the BBL.
Bartlett wants to be an allrounder and played as a batter for his Gold Coast club side, before returning to the bowling crease in the weeks leading up to the BBL season.
It proved to be the perfect tapering process.
With the help of Bichel, Bartlett has been a revelation in taking the Heat to the top of the BBL ladder.
Bartlett has bowled with pace and seam to keep batters guessing around off stump in the early overs, then showcasing his guile in the death overs.
"I have worked really closely with Andy Bichel for a couple of years now. He's someone that I really fall back on," the right-armer said.
"I have been injured the last couple of years and he has instilled the confidence in me to go out and do my thing.
"'Bichs' was one of the best to bowl for Queensland and still bowls to us in the nets. He hasn't lost any of his ability.
"He has been good for me as I try and evolve my death bowling and try and nail down a slower ball, while still having the skills up front.
"It is nice to be getting the rewards around a really great bowling attack."
The Heat, on 14 BBL points, host defending champions Perth Scorchers on Wednesday night, when a win will wrap up top spot on the ladder and two home finals.
The Heat also play the Scorchers in Perth in their final regular-season match on Saturday, and losing to their rivals from the west in last year's final still burns.
"It is going to be a really good challenge to go up against them, especially off the back of last year in that final,'' Bartlett said. "To get so close and then finish so far away, it does definitely drive you.
"The Perth Scorchers have been the benchmark of the competition for the last decade.
"If we can keep winning the close games it will take us a long way in this tournament."
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