Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Brisbane Heat: Prestwidge and Johnson Sign

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The Brisbane Heat will inject a pair of pacemen into their squad as they close in on finalising their 2022-23 KFC Big Bash League combination.

South Australian left-armer Spencer Johnson and Norths quick Will Prestwidge were today confirmed as the final two full contracted positions for BBL|12, providing additional squad balance following the drafting of three batsmen in the recent BBL International Player Draft.

Additionally, clean-hitting Norths opener Josh Brown has verbally committed to the Heat about taking up a Local Replacement Player contract following his stand-out showing in the recent KFC T20 Max competition.

Both Johnson and Prestwidge pushed their BBL claims during the inaugural T20 Max series, which featured interstate and international players linking with Queensland Premier Cricket clubs for the three-week competition.

Johnson, 26, was a member of the Adelaide Strikers squad in 2020-21 without playing a match and is currently a member of the South Australian Redbacks squad.

Brisbane Heat head coach Wade Seccombe said Prestwidge and Johnson provided additional depth for the squad and had agreed to two-year deals.

“Spencer is a promising left-arm pace bowler who has been on the fringes of the BBL for the past few seasons, but the decision he made to come to Queensland and play in the KFC T20 Max competition has been well vindicated,’’ he said.

“He had the best economy rate (5.0) of any of the pace bowlers during the competition and as a left-armer provides additional variety in our bowling depth. I know the Redlands players in the Bulls and Heat squads who played with him like Marnus (Labuschagne) rated his skills, and execution of them, very highly.”

“Likewise, everyone who faced Will Prestwidge in his games for Norths noted he was the quickest bowler the batsmen dealt with during the series. There was some interest in him from other BBL clubs, and we like what he showed last season as a COVID replacement for the Heat so we are keen to develop him further.”

Prestwidge, 20, is the younger brother of former Heat players Jack and Georgia and became the third member of his family to play in the W/BBL when he turned out for three games last summer.

Following the BBL, he made his Marsh One Day Cup debut for the Bulls.

Seccombe also confirmed that the club had negotiated with Norths batsman Josh Brown after the power-hitting opener dominated the T20 Max.

“Josh was the stand-out with the bat and we’ve had some good discussions with him about our plans going forward,’’ he said.

“We’ve agreed that he will be one of our Local Replacement Players for the first half of the tournament when we expect to have Marnus and Usman Khawaja on national duties, and then will look to keep him with the group as a replacement for one of the two international batsmen (Sam Billings and Colin Munro) when they finish up their BBL commitments.”

“We’re looking at some other playing opportunities for Josh as well as we prepare for the tournament, and he has been training with the Bulls for the past few weeks.”

“The Heat coaching staff were very impressed with the quality of players who were a part of the T20 Max competition and there were plenty of individuals who have improved their chances of being involved with a BBL club in the future,” Seccombe said.

Both Brown and Johnson were named in the KFC T20 Max Team of the Tournament as chosen by the Heat coaching staff of Seccombe, Darren Lehmann and Andy Bichel and QC Selectors Chris Hartley and Ryan Harris.

Brown, 28, was the leading runs-scorer with 447 runs at an average of 55.88, including a strike rate of 212 and a competition high 41 sixes. It continues a striking run of form in the T20 game at Premier Cricket level where he has topped the run-scoring lists in recent seasons.

The team of the tournament also included interstate recruits allrounder Nathan McSweeney (SA), batsman Lachlan Hearne (NSW), wicket-keeper Tyran Liddiard (NSW), allrounder Arjun Nair (NSW) and paceman Scott Rodgie (NSW).

McSweeney, Nair and Hearne have all spent time with BBL clubs while evergreen Wests batsman Steve Paulsen, 41, played for the Heat in the first year of the BBL.

Rodgie, who plays Premier Cricket for Norths in Sydney, and Gold Coast paceman Jackson Smith were the equal leading wicket-takers with 19 dismissals.

Nikhil Chaudhary gave further evidence of his T20 potential with the Indian-born allrounder taking 13 wickets with his leg-spin and scoring 203 runs at strike-rate of 185 for Norths.

Nick Buchanan, the former Heat quick and son of leading Australian coach John Buchanan, began the next phase of his cricketing journey in style.

Buchanan was named as the coach of the team of the tournament, steering the Gold Coast Dolphins to their third Premier Cricket T20 title in a row in his first season in the coaching role alongside club coach Andrew Robinson, another ex-Heat player.

The focus now turns from the successful delivery of the men’s competition to the second weekend of the women’s KFC T20 Max competition this Sunday.

KFC T20 Max Team of the Tournament

Josh Brown (Norths)

Max Bryant (Gold Coast)

Nathan McSweeney (Norths)

Lachlan Hearne (Toombul)

Steve Paulsen (Wests)

Nikhil Chaudhary (Norths)

Tyran Liddiard (Sunshine Coast)

Arjun Nair (Wests)

Scott Rodgie (Norths)

Jackson Smith (Gold Coast)

Spencer Johnson (Redlands)

Coach: Nick Buchanan (Gold Coast)

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