The Brisbane Heat's finals will be played on the Gold Coast and not at their regular home ground the Gabba
Heat hoping to strike Gold at new finals home ground
With three different captains in their past three games, the Brisbane Heat are well-accustomed to important changes.
And just how the Heat respond to another significant tweak to the status quo will be a massive factor in their quest for KFC BBL glory – they’ve got a new home ground.
With their regular Gabba fortress unavailable due to the upcoming NRMA Insurance Test match, the Brisbane Heat are hoping Carrara Stadium on the Gold Coast will bring them as much success as their traditional home.
The table-topping Heat won all four of their KFC BBL|13 home matches at the Gabba in Brisbane, with a fifth against the Sydney Sixers washed out without a ball bowled.
But due to the Test match between Australia and West Indies to begin on January 25, the Heat will host the Qualifier final on Friday and subsequent finals at a venue they've only played at once in the past two years.
Nathan McSweeney will lead the Heat through the finals campaign after Usman Khawaja and Colin Munro both led at various stages of the tournament.
And the 24-year-old skipper, who got his first look at the Carrara pitch on Wednesday, believes the change of ground will take some adjusting.
"The wicket will be probably slightly tricky as a batting group," McSweeney told reporters on Thursday.
"It looks as expected. They probably dropped it in two weeks ago … (but) the outfield's amazing and it's a great venue."
The Heat have two players in their squad who hail from the Gold Coast and on Thursday both were named in the BBL|13 Team of the Tournament: Xavier Bartlett and Matthew Kuhnemann.
Right-arm quick Bartlett was the competition's leading wicket-taker in the regular season with 16 scalps, with his strike rate of 10.87 also the best in the league.
Left-arm spinner Kuhnemann was the best-performing tweaker in the BBL, taking nine wickets and conceding only 6.34 runs per over.
The duo will be playing in front of a large contingent of family and friends, a luxury they didn't have during last season's finals run, where the Heat won three consecutive knockout matches on the road on their way to the final in Perth.
Kuhnemann, who made his ODI debut in Sri Lanka in 2022 and his Test debut in India last year, is hopeful his stellar season puts him in the frame for further international honours.
Incumbent Australian white-ball spinner Adam Zampa is his senior by four years and Test incumbent Nathan Lyon has got him by 10, but Kuhnemann knows the competition to be 'next-in-line' is stiff with the likes of Todd Murphy, Tanveer Sangha and even his Queensland and Heat teammate, Mitch Swepson all on the cusp of the green and gold.
"That's why you play the game, to play for Australia," Kuhnemann said on Thursday.
"Having a taste of it (international cricket) the last few years makes you hungry to get back into it … (but) you can't really control those things."
The Heat's opponents on Friday, the second-placed Sixers, made Carrara Stadium a second home in BBL|10 as the Covid pandemic swept the globe, with many matches rescheduled to the relatively virus-free state of Queensland that summer.
The team in magenta won all four of their matches on the Gold Coast that summer on their way to the title.
KFC BBL|13 Finals Schedule
The Qualifier: Brisbane Heat v Sydney Sixers. January 19, 7.40pm AEDT, Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast
The Knockout: Perth Scorchers v Adelaide Strikers. January 20, 7.40pm AEDT, Optus Stadium
The Challenger: Loser of the Qualifier v winner of the Knockout. January 22, time, venue TBC
The Final: Winner of the Qualifier v winner of the Challenger. January 24, time, venue TBC