Fresh off securing their first Big Bash title in 11 years, Brisbane Heat have locked away three crucial players until the end of BBL|15
Heat secure title-winning trio for two more seasons
Big Bash champions Brisbane Heat have secured three key pieces of their title defence with allrounders Michael Neser and Xavier Bartlett, and gloveman Jimny Peirson signing on until the end of KFC BBL|15.
The trio's signatures – which came before the league's contracting embargo kicked in with the first ball of last Wednesday's BBL|13 Final – means 10 of the Heat's championship-winning squad have committed for next season, the maximum number allowed prior to the embargo.
Brisbane upstaged perennial title contenders the Sydney Sixers by 54 runs on their home deck in last week's decider to claim their second men's Big Bash crown.
Brisbane Heat squad for BBL|14: Xavier Bartlett, Spencer Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Matthew Kuhnemann, Nathan McSweeney, Michael Neser, Jimmy Peirson, Will Prestwidge, Matthew Renshaw, Mitchell Swepson
Bartlett's career-best BBL campaign (20 wickets at an economy of 7.63) was crucial to their success all season, with the final two scalps of the Final securing him the honour of the tournament's top wicket-taker ahead of teammate Spencer Johnson (19).
It's seen the 25-year-old right-armer earn his first Australian call-up where he'll be in line to make his international debut against the West Indies in Friday's first ODI at the MCG.
Neser backed up his career-best BBL|12 season with another strong all-round campaign, including several match-winning hands with bat and ball as the Heat secured top spot and a double-chance with seven straight victories to start BBL|13.
His unbeaten 64 off 30 balls locked away top spot with a 23-run win over the Perth Scorchers in their penultimate match of the regular season, while he was also electric in the outfield with five stunning grabs, including an incredible relay effort millimetres before the rope for the second-last wicket in last week's decider.
Underlying the strength and consistency of the Heat's bowling attack all season, Neser's 12 wickets puts him equal 10th overall in the tournament's wickets tally but fourth for his club, with three teammates above him in the top four.
But perhaps the most crucial pillar of today's announcement is the re-signing of club stalwart Peirson who played just four matches in BBL|13 after being kept out of the XI during their seven-game winning run by English international Sam Billings.
The 31-year-old gloveman played their last four games of the tournament, including all three finals, with his new two-year deal set to take him to past 10 straight years with the club.
Peirson was tipped to generate considerable interest from rival clubs if not locked away before the embargo period, especially the Melbourne Renegades who are without a local wicketkeeper in their squad after trading Sam Harper for Adam Zampa prior to last season.
Peirson has played the most games of all-time for the Heat (110), including 25 of those as captain, but the Heat opted to hand the reins to emerging leader Nathan McSweeney for their BBL|13 finals push, with regular skipper Usman Khawaja (Test squad) and stand-in Colin Munro (UAE T20 league) unavailable.
"I think everyone who watched a Heat game this season would have witnessed something special from each of the players, and we are delighted to be in a position to retain Michael, Jimmy and Xavier as we look to build on this year’s success," Heat head coach Wade Seccombe said.
"We're very aware that next season is a new competition, with new challenges, but we are excited to finalise our squad in the coming months as we get ready to compete again in BBL|14."
Big-hitting opener Josh Brown – who has joined Chattogram Challengers in the Bangladesh Premier League – remains off contract for next season and is sure to generate interest from rivals following his epic 140 in the Challenger and 53 in the Final to help Brisbane lift the trophy.
Others yet to be locked away for BBL|14 are Australian star Marnus Labuschagne, Max Bryant, Jack Wildermuth and Jack Wood, but much like the Scorchers and Sixers, who are the only other clubs with multiple men's Big Bash titles, the Heat have secured their local core as they look to extend their dominance next season.