COVID-ravaged Heat name 10 new players
Brisbane have just three ‘healthy’ players from its existing squad, with last-minute replacements coming from far and wide
6 January 2022, 02:00 PM AEST
A coach's son, an electrician, an opener with a first-class strike-rate of 33 and a club cricketer who yesterday was fishing in central Queensland are among the 10 new players the COVID-19 ravaged Brisbane Heat have recruited for tonight's KFC BBL match against the Melbourne Renegades.
Tom Cooper has been appointed captain of a decimated Heat side that will play in Geelong tonight despite 12 players and a coach contracting the virus, the second major league outbreak after the Melbourne Stars were left in a similar position last week.
Pakistan recruit Fakhar Zaman will bolster the Heat and make his debut alongside at least seven others who have never played for the club before, including assistant coach Darren Lehmann's son Jake – an experienced campaigner with South Australia and the Adelaide Strikers – and Australia A opener Bryce Street.
In a further blow however, Queensland's border restrictions may prevent Fakhar, who only recently arrived in the country, from travelling to Brisbane to play in the Heat's following match on Saturday against the Hobart Hurricanes.
An exemption could be sought if players are brought into a BBL hub in Victoria over the coming days, plans for which are believed to be in motion.
Spinner Jack Wood, the electrician who played one match for the Heat last season, has been called up alongside fellow Queensland-contracted players Lachlan Pfeffer, Jack Clayton and Will Prestwidge.
Steve McGiffin, Ronan McDonald and Paddy Dooley have been plucked out of Queensland Premier Cricket while Lehmann and paceman David Grant have come from SA.
The circumstance of McGiffin's call-up highlights just how far and wide COVID-impacted teams are having to search for fit players.
The 24-year-old fast bowler was fishing 90 minutes on a charter boat off-shore from Turkey Beach near Gladstone when he received the Heat's SOS and swiftly made the six-and-a-half hour drive back to Brisbane to join his new teammates.
Star spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman and batter Sam Heazlett are the only members of the most recent Heat team that played on New Year's Day to be available tonight. Their game against Sydney Sixers last night was postponed due to this outbreak.
Cooper was the X-factor for that match.
In total there are 10 players who have never played for the Heat in their hastily assembled 14-man squad to face the Renegades, who are also awaiting the results of PCR test results after one of their players returned a positive rapid test.
Coach Wade Seccombe also has the virus, with assistant James Hopes taking the reins.
"We’re excited as a group, probably a bit nervous as individuals, but everyone is accepting of the circumstances and is raring to go," said Hopes.
"All of the players can look at this experience as an opportunity to improve, to test their skills, and simply enjoy the chance to play in the BBL and have some fun.
"We’re grateful to everyone who has got us to this point. Our thoughts are with the players and Wade who are in isolation and we’re looking forward to doing our best for them and for the Heat fans and supporters."
The Heat have named a further five players - Noah McFadyen, Nikhil Chaudhary, Josh Brown, Will Sanders, Sam Truloff – to be on standby in Brisbane.
@HeatBBL I’m available if you need me to play tomorrow night? Cheers— Charles Cameron (@CharlesRanger23) January 5, 2022
"We've got three healthy (players from the existing squad) at the moment," Darren Lehmann told Fox Cricket yesterday. "Hopefully the guys who have got COVID are going to be ok and the guys who have come in are from all over Australia. I'm sure they'll do well.
"At the moment we just don't know how it's going to play out. What it does do is give great opportunities for young players from club land. We've got some young players coming in – so good luck to them.
"Spirits are up… we've just got to push on. You get your side back in seven days and you see what happens."
Brisbane Heat squad to play Renegades: Tom Cooper (c), Fakhar Zaman*, Jack Clayton*, Sam Heazlett, Jake Lehmann*, Lachlan Pfeffer*, Steve McGiffin*, Will Prestwidge*, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ronan McDonald*, David Grant*, Bryce Street*, Paddy Dooley*, Jack Wood
* in line for Heat debut