Thursday, September 23, 2021

Brisbane Heat: Fresh look for BBL coaches

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The Brisbane Heat have unveiled a new-look unified coaching structure for BBL|11.

Sheffield Shield winning Queensland Bulls coach Wade Seccombe will take on the head coaching responsibilities for the Heat for the coming season, with Darren Lehmann assuming a senior assistant role with the club.

James Hopes and Andy Bichel have been appointed Queensland Bulls Batting and Bowling coaching specialists respectively and will also feature in preparations for the KFC Big Bash League in addition to the Marsh Sheffield Shield and One Day Cup competitions.

The coaching initiative is part of an integrated approach to T20 by Queensland Cricket, with added emphasis on developing more ‘home-grown’ specialists in the shortest of the three traditional formats.

Queensland Cricket CEO Terry Svenson said the consolidated coaching structure followed discussions with Lehmann after his contract had been extended for a further year.

“Darren came to us with some thoughts on how the Heat could develop further, and one of the things we talked through was that there was a chance for us to expand our coaching depth and focus to better prepare our players for a role in the T20 format,’’ he said.

“The change in responsibility was Darren’s initiative and we’re supportive of that. He was keen to play a role to ensure Wade was best positioned to have the right experience to take on the national coaching role in the future”

“We think Wade is a future coach for Australia and we want to make sure that he’s given every opportunity. Putting together a Queensland coaching ‘dream team’ like this has plenty of upside for everyone,” he said. 

Svenson said the revised coaching structure also had wider benefits to Queensland Cricket.

“The BBL is very important to the health of the game and for Queensland Cricket, it was the chance for us to look carefully at how we resource the Heat,” he said.

“This was an area that the recent external review of the Heat had identified and so the coaching staff and Bennett King, our High Performance GM, worked on an integrated model that can utilize the skills and experience of our coaches with the Bulls and Heat players.”

“Darren and Wade will play very important roles for us across the whole season, not just the BBL, when it comes to developing players,” Svenson said

Seccombe oversaw the Bulls Sheffield Shield title win last season as well as top three finishes in the limited overs competition in the past two summers.

Under Lehmann, the Heat achieved their highest placing since BBL|06 last season.

The team won through to host the club’s first semi-final since 2016-17, going on to win the ‘Eliminator’ and “Knock-Out’ finals before losing in the ‘Challenger’ to Perth to finish in third spot.

Lehmann said his decision to step aside as head coach came after much deliberation.

“I said when I re-signed that overall, I really enjoyed the season we had and that hasn’t changed,’’ he said. 

“But I have also had a chance to reflect on what is going to be best for me and my family going forward.”

“Having a heart attack reinforced how special my family is to me, and I have the chance now to continue to enjoy coaching but also to spread some of the workload and pressure that comes with the job.”

“There’s tons of experience in our coaching team with ‘Hopesy’, ‘Bic’ and ‘Chuck’, and I am looking forward to working with them and the playing group on the challenges to come this season.”

Seccombe said he was excited at rejoining the Heat, having previously filled specialist coaching roles alongside Lehmann and former coach Dan Vettori prior to taking on the Bulls job in 2017.

“I’m pleased to have the prospect of working with the players in a world-class T20 environment and it’s encouraging that we will be able to draw upon the insights and knowledge of Darren, as well as James Hopes and Andy Bichel, as we seek a successful season,” he said.

“It’s an excellent opening for me to further develop as a coach and certainly one that I am looking forward to.”

Queensland Cricket’s General Manager of Performance, Pathways, Coaching and Community Cricket, Bennett King, will oversee the management of the Heat playing list with input from the coaching staff.

Lehmann has been working during the off-season with individual Queensland players and will link with the entire squad in the pre-season once he has returned from coaching the Northern Superchargers in the inaugural season of ‘The Hundred’ in England from July 21 to August 21.

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