Heat sign 'unorthodox' Englishman to replace Banton
Tom Abell set for maiden KFC BBL stint, rounding out Brisbane Heat's international signings for the upcoming season
14 October 2021, 05:01 PM AEST
Brisbane Heat have moved quickly to replace English star Tom Banton, signing his Somerset captain Tom Abell for his maiden KFC BBL stint.
An innovative middle-order player who remains uncapped at international level, Abell strengthens the Heat's batting after the explosive Banton pulled out of a second straight Big Bash season due to concerns over bio-security measures.
New Heat coach Wade Seccombe said the 27-year-old Abell, who has a career strike-rate of 144.94 from 53 T20s, had come highly recommended by his predecessor Darren Lehmann as well as Queensland great and current Middlesex coach, Stuart Law.
Australia men's team assistant Andrew McDonald, who had a planned stint at the helm of Abell's Birmingham Phoenix in the Hundred cancelled earlier this year due to the effects of the pandemic, is also believed to have put in a good word.
The right-hander only played one game for the Phoenix due to a hamstring injury but has become one of the county T20 competition's better batters and has also had stints in the Bangladesh and Pakistan T20 leagues.
Abell is also no stranger to Australia having played a season of Premier Cricket in Perth alongside the likes of Shaun and Mitch Marsh, Ashton Turner and Jhye Richardson at Fremantle back in 2015.
That spell had come after he finished a university degree in Sport Science and French and he ultimately decided to head to Perth instead of France as part of his studies.
"The more we looked at Tom, and the more people we caught up with, the more confident we became that he would fit really well into the Heat," said Seccombe.
"Darren (Lehmann) came back from his stint as coach of the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred and he had only good things to report, and Stuey Law also recommended him highly as a resilient, talented and hungry player who is also an excellent team man and leader.
"Tom has worked hard to improve his T20 game and has certainly blossomed in the past few seasons. He played hockey at a high level as a youngster and is a bit unorthodox at the crease so he will certainly fill a role for us."
Abell rounds out the Heat's international signings for the coming season, joining fellow new English recruit Ben Duckett and Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman in teal.
He joins a strong contingent of English players set to play in BBL|11 with Alex Hales and Sam Billings (both Sydney Thunder), James Vince and Tom Curran (both Sydney Sixers) all set to return.
Saqid Mahmood (Thunder), Harry Brook (Hobart Hurricanes), George Garton (Adelaide Strikers) and Duckett (Heat) will all play in the BBL for the first time.
"I cannot wait to get out to Australia and join up with the Heat club," said Abell.
"I have always been a huge fan of the BBL and there has been a long-standing connection with the Heat and Somerset with the likes of Lewis Gregory, Tom Banton, Craig Kieswetter and Roelof van der Merwe over the years.
"I am really excited by the opportunity, and I am looking forward to getting stuck in and doing my bit for the team."
The Heat are currently scheduled to kick off their season against the Thunder at Manuka Oval on December 6.
Brisbane Heat BBL|11 squad (so far): Tom Abell (England), Xavier Bartlett, Tom Cooper, Ben Duckett (England), Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Chris Lynn, Jimmy Peirson, Michael Neser, Mark Steketee, Mitch Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan), Matt Willans.
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