Australian Test cricketers Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, and Matthew Renshaw will be returning to the Big Bash League this summer. Khawaja, who has switched clubs from the Sydney Thunder, will make his debut for the Brisbane Heat against Perth Scorchers at the Gabba on Wednesday night. Labuschagne will return to play in his seventh season with the Heat. Renshaw has already played four matches this season for the Heat, with a top score of 29, and will provide valuable experience to the team.
The return of these domestic international stars is a welcome boost for the Heat, who are currently second to last on the BBL|12 table, having won only two of their eight games. Stand-in skipper Jimmy Peirson stated, “It’s going to be great having those guys back, three big ins for us. The all-round options we’re going to have through Marnus and Matty Renshaw coming back in, that gives us the option to play an extra batter or an extra seamer to try and maximize one of our disciplines.”
Khawaja will captain the side and will likely replace Colin Munro at the top of the order. Labuschagne could slot in at No.3 or No.4, depending on how the Heat structure their lineup. Renshaw, who also sent down an over of off-spin in his last match against the Thunder, will provide additional all-round options to the team.
The Scorchers could also add spin-bowling all-rounder Ashton Agar to their lineup for the match after he was picked for his first Test in five years in Sydney. Additionally, they will also welcome back speedster Lance Morris, who spent the summer with the Australian squad. Agar has picked up four wickets with an economy rate of just 7.60 in his five matches for the Scorchers this season before being drafted into the Test side.
Labuschagne stated that he would have a long batting session at Heat training on Tuesday afternoon to sort through some technical tweaks that come with switching from the longest to the shortest format of the game. “Getting a nice strong base, a little bit of a wider stance and a few small tweaks with (my) grip and hands just to give a bit more freedom to clear the ropes,” he said of the technical changes after arriving in Brisbane on Tuesday morning.
The trio of Khawaja, Labuschagne, and Renshaw are excited to be back in the BBL, and Labuschagne noted that he had been impressed from afar, watching the likes of Josh Brown and Nathan McSweeney step up for the Heat during a tough start to the campaign. The players are looking forward to joining the team and adding strength to the side, with the aim to have fun and enjoy the remaining games of the season.