Sydney [Australia], June 29 (ANI): Australia Test batter Usman Khawaja has signed a four-year contract with Big Bash League team Brisbane Heat and will captain the club, Brisbane Heat announced on Wednesday.
Khawaja has played 59 BBL matches out of an overall T20 career playing a record of 107 games, including nine T20 Internationals for Australia, and playing stints in Pakistan, England, and the Indian Premier League.
He is the 11th player announced for the Heat ahead of the BBL|12 season.
Khawaja, currently preparing in Galle for the opening day today of the First Test against Sri Lanka which will be his 50th for Australia, said his decision to link with the heat had only come after much soul-searching.
"I always thought I would finish off as a Thunder player, but it is funny how things change,'' he told brisbaneheat.com.au.
"I've said it for a long time, that Brisbane is home, Queensland is home, and to be here, captain of Queensland, and now joining the Heat - it is really exciting," he added.
"I know I will be playing in front of my family, and a home crowd, when I am at the Gabba or Metricon Stadium with the Heat. I love the Thunder and the Thunder Nation, but at the same time, this is a change that comes at the right time," Khawaja said.
"It wasn't an easy decision, it was a very tough one, but the timing just feels right. I like to say I used to be an honorary Queensland and now I am one."
"I have been loosely tied with the Heat through my Queensland roles for several years, and so I am looking forward to the challenge of trying something new by joining them now. I do love playing in the BBL and now I am with the Heat for the coming years, I am very excited," he said.
Queensland Cricket and Brisbane Heat CEO Terry Svenson said Brisbane fans would feel very assured with Khawaja's signing.
"I'm sure our fans have nothing but respect for what Usman has achieved in the game with the Thunder and will be thrilled to see him in teal for this next phase of his career,'' he said.
"He's a skillful and proven performer in T20 cricket, a highly-regarded leader on the field, and an innovative and inclusive individual away from cricket."
"Having Usman as a leader with both Queensland Cricket and the Heat delivers benefits across the game, both on and off the field.
"Queensland Cricket has a goal to better engage with our multicultural community and develop greater diversity within the game, and Usman's passion in this space is well known. We're excited to complete the circle and bring Usman into the Heat club as part of his commitment to the wider Queensland Cricket family," Svenson said.
Svenson said the Heat's on-field leadership would be shared between Khawaja and Jimmy Peirson.
"It will mirror the current situation within the Bulls set-up, with Usman captaining the team when he is available and Jimmy taking the reins when Usman is not there," he said.
Khawaja has had plenty of opportunities to feel comfortable with the news of his impending switch, preparing in Sri Lanka alongside State teammates such as Jimmy Peirson, Mitch Swepson, Mark Steketee, Marnus Labuschagne, Matthew Renshaw and new ODI spinner Matthew Kuhnemann. (ANI)