Heat lose de Villiers for BBL season

Superstar AB de Villiers won’t be back for this year’s Big Bash but the South African dynamo is intent on an eventual return to take care of some “unfinished business”.

Brisbane Heat coach Darren Lehmann had been hopeful of securing de Villiers for a second straight BBL campaign, however it was a case of family coming first for the 36-year-old veteran who is expecting his third child.

“We’ve been in regular contact with AB since last season and while things initially looked fine for him to come back, there have been a few factors emerge which have changed everyone’s plans,’’ Lehmann said.

“The main one, aside from the challenges represented by COVID-19 and international travel, is that AB and his wife Danielle are expecting their third child very soon.

“Naturally we’re very pleased for them and know that the next few months will be a very special time for all. “

“We have always stressed the importance of family within the Heat and this is an instance where we fully back any decisions that AB makes in this regard.”

“We’ll stay in contact and see what develops.”

De Villiers was grateful for the Heat’s understanding and backing.

“It’s exciting for Danielle and me with the arrival of our new baby very soon, so, with a young, growing family, and the uncertainty around travel and conditions due to COVID-19, we reluctantly decided it wasn’t going to be this season,” de Villiers said.

“The Heat were great to us last summer and I am very open to returning to the club in the future.

“The team didn’t get the results we were hoping for and I consider there is some unfinished business to deal with.

“I wish the boys all the best for BBL 10 and will keep a close eye on results as we go.”

In better news for the Heat, star Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is returning for a third BBL season.

🗣️ @darren_lehmann on @Mujeeb_R88 re-signing. #BringTheHeat #BBL10 pic.twitter.com/3FaEI16VWX

Mujeeb, 19, is the second international recruit locked in by the Heat, who also have English batsman Tom Banton in their squad.

Lehmann said Mujeeb had formed a “match-winning partnership” with Heat leg-spinner Mitch Swepson.

“He’s doing a lot of the little things as well as anyone, and his control and maturity have gone to a new level I believe,” Lehmann said of Mujeeb.

“He was outstanding in the Caribbean Premier League recently when he was the second leading wicket-taker in the competition, and he’s shown in the IPL that he can handle the very best.’’

“We’re very pleased to have him back with us and with the BBL schedule potentially looking quite different to the usual format, his versatility and ability to create chances in a range of conditions will be very important for us.

“I know Mujeeb enjoys coming to Brisbane and the challenge of playing in the BBL so it’s exciting he is coming back.

“We’re pretty pleased to put him alongside ‘Swepo’ and Matt Kuhnemann as our frontline spinners because your slow bowlers are so important as to how you set up your fielding innings.”

Mujeeb has taken 15 wickets in 18 BBL games at an economy rate of 6.08.

“I’ve enjoyed my two seasons with Brisbane Heat very much and I am very happy to be returning for another,” Mujeeb said.

“Hopefully the Heat can have a successful tournament.”

Current Heat squad: Tom Banton, Max Bryant, Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Matthew Kuhnemann, Ben Laughlin, Chris Lynn, Mitch Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Jack Wildermuth.

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