BBL|13 review: Heat return to the top in stellar season

After a number of below-par seasons since their first title 11 years ago, the Heat turned up this summer with a point to prove

Brisbane Heat shook off a heartbreaking defeat in last summer’s Big Bash final to return to the top of domestic T20 cricket in Australia, crowned champions in KFC BBL|13.

After making just one finals series in the five summers prior to BBL|12, the Heat’s appearance in last year’s showpiece came as a surprise, however their victory in this summer’s decider was entirely deserved and reflective of a comprehensive campaign.

Dominant in the home-and-away season winning their first seven completed matches, the Wade Seccombe-coached side were upset by Sydney Sixers in a home Qualifier final, however used the double chance to their advantage.

Josh Brown’s record-breaking 140 in the subsequent Challenger against Adelaide Strikers propelled the Heat into the Final, earning a rematch against the Sixers – this time at the SCG.

The Sixers’ parochial home support didn’t phase the Heat, however, who posted 8-166 before tearing through the hosts for just 112 to seal their first Big Bash title in 11 years.

Sydney Sixers v Brisbane Heat | BBL|13

While the likes of Brown and New Zealander Colin Munro bookended the tournament with starring batting efforts, it was the Heat bowlers who arguably proved most crucial to their success.

Bar one over delivered by Final captain Nathan McSweeney, the Heat used just six bowlers across the entire campaign – all six of which finished with 10 or more scalps.

Xavier Bartlett (BBL|13 leading wicket-taker with 20), Spencer Johnson (second with 19) and Paul Walter (equal-third with 17) dominated the competition throughout, and gave the club’s three captains this season (Usman Khawaja, Munro and McSweeney) dependable levers to pull during different phases of a game.

Every wicket: Bartlett's career-best in championship season

Bartlett’s campaign in particular proved the impetus for what became a stunning entrance onto the international scene, taking 10 wickets in three games for Australia against West Indies across the 50-over and 20-over formats.

BBL|13 result: Champions (7 wins, 1 loss, 2 no-results), defeated Sydney Sixers in Final


Most runs: Josh Brown (366)


Best strike rate (min 50 runs): Max Bryant (164.91)


Most wickets: Xavier Bartlett (20)


Best economy (min 10 overs): Matthew Kuhnemann (6.56)


Contracted: Xavier Bartlett (contracted until the end of BBL15), Spencer Johnson (BBL15), Usman Khawaja (BBL15), Matthew Kuhnemann (BBL15), Nathan McSweeney (BBL14), Michael Neser (BBL15), Jimmy Peirson (BBL15), Matthew Renshaw (BBL14), Will Prestwidge (BBL14), Mitchell Swepson (BBL14)


Out of contract: Josh Brown, Max Bryant, Marnus Labuschagne, Jack Wildermuth, Jack Wood

International impact

The Heat took Colin Munro with their first pick in the draft after he had impressed for the club throughout BBL|12, and the New Zealander immediately repaid them, scoring an unbeaten 99 in a season-opening thrashing of the Stars at the Gabba. Munro finished his stint with 224 runs at 37.33 before jetting off to the UAE T20 league.

Munro stranded on 99no as Heat make hot start in BBL|13

Their second pick – also a proven performer at the club – was English wicketkeeper Sam Billings, who took on a flexible and selfless role in the middle order, epitomised by his crucial 40 from 29 balls on a tricky Marvel Stadium track in Melbourne. But it was the Heat’s third and final pick, English allrounder Paul Walter, who had the biggest impact of the three. Selected after a strong UK Hundred campaign with Manchester Originals, Walter finished equal-third on the BBL|13 wickets tally with 17, and chipped in with some valuable lower-order runs to be selected in the coach-selected team of the tournament. Off the field, he proved a popular teammates and garnered cult status among fans.

'Tall Paul' tees off against Richardson to guide Heat home

Season recap with coach Wade Seccombe and players

BBL|12 heartbreak

Jimmy Peirson: “We found our way into a final last year and we probably should have won it. It was a chance missed … but on the flipside, it's also gave us confidence (that) we've been in a final, we've played in front of 50,000 people, we know what to expect, and we did it with a group that wasn't at its strongest either.”

Peirson being squeezed out early

Wade Seccombe: “At times it was probably difficult for Jim to take. He captained the side in a final last year. But he was professional in the way he approached it, and we asked him to act as a leader around the group, which he did despite the personal battles he was probably dealing with in not playing.”

Josh Brown’s place in the XI

Seccombe: “We knew all along that that with 'Browny', he's one of those players that can win you a game. So when you've got a player like that in your side, you've just got to keep rolling with them … you will cash in at some point in time. So he was always in the make-up of the side.”

Brown slams BBL's second fastest ton

The extra frontline option

Seccombe: “I always love having six bowling options. If we've got seven, better. Eight, better. I just think it frees up the captain, it allows him to bowl the right bowlers at the right time, whereas when you are restricted to only five bowlers, unfortunately, someone's going to go the journey on the day, and then you're scrambling at the back end of the game.”

Complete buy-in

Nathan McSweeney: “When you win a title, you rely on more than just the 11 players that are playing every game. It's a squad mentality. Although we didn't play every game, the group that we have, it just shows the strength that we can bring to chop and change (our team). Mitch Swepson … to miss (the Challenger) and come in and play a pivotal role … credit to all the boys for taking it on the chin and the coaching staff for making those hard calls – all in all, we're standing here today (as winners) so we've probably made the right choices along the way.”

'More than the XI': Heat stars revel in incredible journey

Title reflects dominance

Usman Khawaja: “Even last year I was quite open and honest with (the QC brains trust). I said, 'We made the finals (in BBL|12) but I still think we're the fourth best team, so we've got a lot of work to do'. The way I judge it is where you finish on the table. This year we finished first, and I truly felt like we were the best team in the comp. Luckily – and it doesn't always work this way – we got the biccies in the end, too.”

A triumph in strategy and execution

Seccombe: “I think our messaging has been really clear and concise, and our planning has been spot on in the last couple of years. Our analytics area is just going from strength to strength in how we look at filling the gaps in our roster. The coaches have gotten very good at planning for oppositions and communicating that plan, and the overriding way as to how we want to play has held consistent for a couple of years now. It's not rocket science, but the players have bought into the way we want to play, and when we've succeeded, we've played the right way.”

Top 7: All-round Neser stars with incredible fielding exploits

What the club means

Spencer Johnson: “When I came up here last year I wasn’t really sure where my career was at, but the Heat gave me a chance. Where I am now is a lot to do with them, and the opportunity that they’ve given me.”