Heat unveil debutant, Strikers unchanged for Challenger

Brisbane Heat has axed a regular spinner for a debutant to strengthen its batting for the Challenger final against the Adelaide Strikers

Brisbane Heat have dropped Australian-capped leg-spinner Mitch Swepson for their sudden-death Challenger final against the Adelaide Strikers with Tasmanian batter Charlie Wakim to make his debut for the club on the Gold Coast.

Heat skipper Nathan McSweeney won the toss at Carrara Stadium and elected to bat first as they look to rebound from two losses on the bounce after being bowled out for 113 in their Qualifier loss to the Sydney Sixers on Friday night.

Swepson misses out after bowling just two overs against the Sixers, with his replacement Wakim set to play his first KFC BBL match since January 2022 after being brought into the Brisbane squad as a local replacement player with Test stars Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne unavailable, and imports Colin Munro and Sam Billings finished for the season.

The Strikers have named an unchanged XI from the one that upset the Scorchers in Perth two nights ago and will again back in their leg-spinning duo of Cameron Boyce and Lloyd Pope on a slow, uneven Carrara Stadium surface being used for just its second game of the summer.

Heat XI: Jimmy Peirson (wk), Josh Brown, Nathan McSweeney (c), Matthew Renshaw, Max Bryant, Charlie Wakim, Paul Walter, Michael Neser, Xavier Bartlett, Spencer Johnson, Matt Kuhnemann


Strikers XI: Matt Short (c), D'Arcy Short, Jake Weatherald, Thomas Kelly, Harry Nielsen (wk), Ben Manenti, James Bazley, Henry Thornton, David Payne, Cameron Boyce, Lloyd Pope

The Strikers have won five straight games since Pope came into the side to surge into BBL|13's final three, while the Heat are coming off their first two losses of the season after winning their opening seven completed matches to top the standings.

Pope and Boyce have taken a combined 20 wickets in those five matches, conceding fewer than six runs per over between them to lift the Strikers into the finals from the bottom of the standings on January 3.

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With their batting order depleted due to the loss of their international stars, Wakim comes into the side to averaging 46 for Tasmania striking at 124 in the 50-over format this summer and will provide some fire power at the top of the order alongside Josh Brown.

The right-hander played his last Big Bash match for the Melbourne Stars in BBL|11 as a Covid replacement, hitting scores of 20 and 12 in his two innings.

He also played two T20 matches for the Hobart Hurricanes against Yorkshire and the Lahore Qalandars in the 2018 in Abu Dhabi T20 tournament.

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He comes into his first game of the tournament in superb touch this summer having crashed a 56-ball 139 in a T20 for his club side Lindisfarne in December, while also hitting two centuries for Tasmania in the Marsh Sheffield Shield.

"Charlie Wakim's going to come in and bat at the top of the order," Heat 'keeper Jimmy Peirson told Fox Cricket pre-game.

"A great talent coming out of Tassie, he's played a lot of first-class cricket now but I particularly noticed in the one-day format over the last season he's really come out with an aggressive approach, and he's been scoring a lot of runs off the back of that.

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"So looking forward to him showing the Big Bash what he can do and hopefully he can get us over the line tonight."

It means Peirson himself – who opened against the Sixers – is likely to slide to the middle-order where he has batted for most of his Big Bash career.

The winner of tonight's match will progress to the Final to face off against the Sixers at the SCG on Wednesday for the BBL|13 title.

KFC BBL|13 Finals Schedule

The Qualifier: Sydney Sixers beat Brisbane Heat by 39 runs

The Knockout: Adelaide Strikers beat Perth Scorchers by 50 runs

The Challenger: Brisbane Heat v Adelaide Strikers, January 22, 7.40pm AEDT, Carrara Stadium, Gold Coast

The Final: Sydney Sixers v winner of the Challenger. January 24, 7.15pm AEDT, SCG