De Villiers ready to ramp up the action in BBL debut
South Africa superstar arrives in Brisbane declaring he's in 'some of the best form of my career' in ominous warning for BBL rivals
13 January 2020, 12:19 PM AEST
AB de Villiers has fired the first shot of his hotly anticipated KFC BBL campaign, declaring he's arrived in Brisbane "in some of the best form of my career".
De Villiers arrived in Brisbane on Sunday night and will meet his Brisbane Heat teammates at training today before making his BBL debut in Tuesday afternoon's clash with the Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba (3.40pm AEDT, Fox and Kayo).
The 35-year-old says he's been keenly watching the Brisbane Heat games from South Africa and the former Protea cannot wait to get stuck in having smashed four half-centuries in his past six knocks.
De Villiers hit 325 runs at a strike rate of 152.58 for the Tshwane Spartans in the Mzansi Super League, and has hit four half-centuries in his past six innings, describing it as "a few good knocks".
"I felt in some of the best form of my career. Hopefully we'll see more of that in this tournament," de Villiers said in Brisbane today.
"I know what's required of me to make a play for the team. There's been some standout performances from the Heat this season and I think the team is in a really good place.
"Tom Banton did a fantastic job, hopefully I'll do a similar job but in the middle order."
Exactly where de Villiers lines up for the Heat is to be determined, but he's likely to come in at No.4 behind Chris Lynn, with the Heat potentially elevating Ben Cutting to open alongside Max Bryant following the exit of Banton.
De Villiers was lured to Brisbane by Lynn after they bonded at the IPL while playing on opposite teams, and the South African is excited to bat with the six-hitting sensation for the first time.
"It could be interesting, I don't know what to expect," de Villiers said of batting with the Heat skipper.
"We know each other from chatting at IPL but it's an interesting dynamic with two players at the crease, it either works or it doesn’t.
"I've got a feeling it's going to work and be very nice to watch.
"Hopefully I'll do most of the watching at the non-striker's end."
The Heat begin their six-game run to the BBL finals with de Villiers sitting in fifth spot with a 4-4 record from eight games, having lost their last start against the Perth Scorchers.
De Villiers says he's comfortable with the expectation on his shoulders as he prepares for his maiden innings.
"I always (feel pressure). Wherever I play around world, either a club game or the World Cup semi-finals, I feel the same kind of pressure, the pressure I put on myself to perform at the best of my ability," de Villiers said.
"This is no different, but I've done it so many times. It doesn't guarantee success but I know what to expect.
"The butterflies I'm getting in my stomach is a good sign.
"All I can do is go out and enjoy myself and hopefully have an impact on the game with the batting.
"Then there's the fielding and all the off-field stuff as well.
"I've got a big role to play as an individual not just as a cricketer and I'm looking forward to the challenge."
After 12 wickets in last year's BBL, mystery spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is back for the @HeatBBL! #BBL09 pic.twitter.com/3AMaXxxLAw— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) January 13, 2020
Meanwhile, Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman will also make his BBL|09 debut in Tuesday's clash as he replaces Zahir Khan. Mujeeb took 15 wickets in 12 games in the Bangladesh T20 competition, conceding just five runs per over.
The two international imports are the only changes to the Heat side that lost to Perth in their last match, while the Adelaide Strikers have named an unchanged squad for the clash.
Brisbane Heat squad: Chris Lynn (c), Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Josh Lalor, Ben Laughlin, James Pattinson, James Peirson, Jack Prestwidge, Matthew Renshaw, Mitch Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, AB de Villiers.
Adelaide Strikers squad: Travis Head (c), Wes Agar, Harry Conway, Rashid Khan, Michael Neser, Harry Nielsen, Liam O’Connor, Phil Salt, Matt Short, Peter Siddle, Billy Stanlake, Jake Weatherald, Jon Wells.