Fresh from landing South Africa superstar AB de Villiers, the Brisbane Heat have landed another international coup by securing English young gun Tom Banton for the coming KFC BBL season.
Likened to Kevin Pietersen by former Heat star Brendon McCullum, the 20-year-old Somerset star lit up this year's T20 Blast competition in England with 549 runs at a strike-rate of 161.47, including a maiden T20 ton off just 51 balls against Kent.
🎥 Pure class from @TomBanton18 today 🔥🔥🔥 1️⃣0️⃣7️⃣ runs 7️⃣9️⃣ balls 1️⃣1️⃣ fours 4️⃣ sixes #WeAreSomerset pic.twitter.com/VEmZZCgk5v— Somerset Cricket 🏏 (@SomersetCCC) April 19, 2019
It saw him called up to England's T20 squad to tour New Zealand next month, and he was named England's Young Cricketer of the Year last week.
Banton will play the first eight games of the Heat season, before Proteas legend de Villiers joins the Heat for their final six regular season games and any subsequent finals, with Afghanistan spin pair Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan rounding out Brisbane's international recruits for the summer.
Banton, who is also a wicket-keeper, admitted it had been a whirlwind few months culminating in his first overseas T20 contract with the Heat.
Has there been a better youngster than Tom Banton in #Blast19? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/oDsWvjEoXz— Vitality Blast (@VitalityBlast) August 16, 2019
"If you had asked me at the start of the summer would I imagine it going like this, I would have probably had a laugh and suggested you weren't serious," he said.
"I was blown away when it was announced last week that AB was coming to join the Heat so what was already going to be a huge experience just got bigger.
"I'm really looking forward to coming to Brisbane and seeing what Queensland has to offer after previously playing club cricket in Perth when I was younger.
"I've watched a fair bit of the BBL at home and it is a quality competition with so many outstanding players. I can't wait to be honest."
Heat coach Darren Lehmann said Banton's recruitment had been a high priority.
"He was the talk of English cricket during their season," Lehmann said. "Outside the World Cup and the Ashes, Tom was the player that a lot of people were really excited to be watching, and with good reason.
"He's a lovely striker of the ball and has that wide and varied range of shots you need to make the most of the early overs in the power play or to accelerate the scoring through the middle and back half of an innings.
"The prospect of pairing him alongside some of our young batsmen like Max Bryant, his mate Matt Renshaw and Sam Heazlett is pretty enticing, that's for sure.
"But we know Tom will also benefit from playing and being around the likes of Chris Lynn, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting and Marnus Labuschagne as he takes steps to expand his skills and experience in Australian conditions.
"He's joining us for the first half of the tournament but we're hopeful he will have some time to catch-up with AB de Villiers at some point as that would be a great opportunity as part of his experience with the Heat."
Lehmann said the club was close to finalising its 18-man roster with two spots to fill.
"We're working on those last few spots, so we'll keep a close eye on the Marsh One Day Cup and Sheffield Shield, and performances in Premier Cricket," Lehmann said.
"It's all about weighing up the options to give us the depth in the roles we feel we need for the tournament."
Brisbane Heat BBL|09 squad: Chris Lynn, Tom Banton (UK), AB de Villiers (SA), Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afg), Zahir Khan (Afg), James Pattinson, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting, Sam Heazlett, Matthew Renshaw, Josh Lalor, Mitch Swepson, Jack Prestwidge, Mark Steketee, Jimmy Peirson, Marnus Labuschagne. (Two spots to fill).