Stars, Heat announce signings
Bowe, Gulbis and Merlo back on board for Melbourne Stars as Brisbane Heat hand final roster spot to Kuhnemann
AAP & Cricket Network
13 November 2018, 10:01 AM AEST
A pair of former Australia Under-19 representatives, an emerging cult hero and a domestic veteran have all signed on for the upcoming KFC Big Bash League season.
Melbourne Stars have re-signed allrounders Jono Merlo and Evan Gulbis, as well as left-arm wrist-spinner Liam Bowe for BBL|08, while Brisbane Heat confirmed their final roster spot has gone to tweaker Matt Kuhnemann.
Merlo, 19, top-scored for Australia in the final of the U19 World Cup against champions India earlier this year, while the 22-year-old Gold Coaster Kuhnemann has progressed from elite junior ranks to make his Queensland debut in the recent JLT One-Day Cup.
Bowe, a fan favourite affectionately dubbed 'The Wizard' by teammates, has earnt his first full contract after featuring for the Stars during the past two Big Bash campaigns, while Gulbis, 32, is back on board for his fourth season in green.
Left-arm spinner Kuhnemann always had plans to be at Brisbane Heat's Big Bash League games at the Gold Coast's Metricon Stadium this summer – as a supporter – but is now looking forward to being part of the main event under Heat coach and ex-New Zealand spinner Dan Vettori.
The 22-year-old is daring to dream of running out as a player after impressing with eight wickets at 23.62 for Queensland in the recent JLT One-Day Cup.
"I had been planning to buy tickets to be at the two Heat games on the Gold Coast but now maybe I can start to dream about playing in them instead," Kuhnemann said.
"Having Dan (Vettori) there is going to help me develop my skills, no doubt. He is a legend of the game so I will be keen to learn as much as I can."
Vettori said he had Kuhnemann in his sights after watching him keep his cool as Western Australia's D'Arcy Short thrashed 257 in a domestic one-day clash against the Bulls in September.
"While everyone was justifiably excited by the innings, the thing that probably got a bit overlooked was that Matt held his own to take 3-50 from eight overs and dismiss D'Arcy in the process," Vettori said.
"When you consider that was just his second game for Queensland, it indicated that he has a pretty good temperament for the game."
The Heat will host matches for the first time on the Gold Coast – against the Hobart Hurricanes on December 22 and the Sydney Sixers on New Year's Day – while the Stars will also play a home game at Metricon Stadium, against the Sydney Thunder on January 5.
Stars list manager Trent Woodhill suggested all three of their re-signed players will be in the mix to feature this season.
"Evan is a quality all-round cricketer. He's probably our fastest bowler, one of our best fielders and can adapt to any situation with the bat," Woodhill said.
"We're also really pleased to have The Wizard back on board. We saw last year that he has the x- factor and we think he will develop into a dangerous Big Bash bowler.
"Jono was one of the stars of the U19 World Cup and we were aware that several other teams were after him. We can see him fighting for a starting position and his game is suited to succeed in the BBL."
Brisbane start their BBL campaign against defending champions the Adelaide Strikers at the Gabba on December 19 while the Stars' first game is against the Thunder in Canberra.
The Stars still have two more spots on their roster to fill.
Brisbane Heat squad: Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Brendan Doggett, Sam Heazlett, Matt Kuhnemann, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Lalor, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum (NZ), James Pattinson, James Peirson, Jack Prestwidge, Matt Renshaw, Alex Ross, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (AFG), Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson.
In: Matt Kuhnemann, James Pattinson (Renegades), Jack Prestwidge, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan).
Out: Shadab Khan (Pakistan).
Roster spots to fill: none
Internationals signed: two
Melbourne Stars squad: Current squad: Michael Beer, Scott Boland, Liam Bowe, Jackson Coleman, Travis Dean, Ben Dunk, Seb Gotch, Evan Gulbis, Peter Handscomb, Sandeep Lamichhane (NEP), Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jonathan Merlo, Marcus Stoinis, Daniel Worrall, Adam Zampa, Matt Parkinson (ENG, international replacement)
In: Travis Dean (Renegades replacement), Sandeep Lamichhane (Nepal), Nic Maddinson (Sixers), Jonathan Merlo.
Out: James Faulkner (Hurricanes), John Hastings (Sixers), Kevin Pietersen (retired), Rob Quiney (retired), Luke Wright.
Roster spots to fill: two
Internationals signed: one, one replacement