Australia opener Usman Khawaja has joined Brisbane Heat on a four-year contract. The 35-year-old parted ways with Sydney Thunder after 11 years.
The southpaw was one of the founding members of the Thunder, as he joined the franchise in season 1 but ended his contract with them in February this year, citing family reasons.
Khawaja commented on his move and termed it one of the toughest calls he took as a cricketer. He further revealed how excited he was to be heading home.
Khwaja is Thunder’s leading run-scorer with 1818 runs in 59 matches. He also guided the team to its first and only BBL trophy in the 2015-2016 season.
Khawaja further revealed that he always thought about finishing his career as a Thunder player. He said, “I always thought I would finish off as a Thunder player, but it is funny how things change. 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,”
The 35-year-old at present resides in Brisbane with his family. He also plays for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield. Hence, he has enough reasons to call Brisbane his home.
Khawaja will also be leading the side. Although, he would miss the start of the season due to national duties. Meanwhile, Jimmy Peirson will captain the Heat in his absence.
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 Thunder, but at the same time, this is a change that comes at the right time.”
“It wasn’t an easy decision, it was a very tough one, but the timing just feels right,” he added.
The Heat have signed Khawaja as a replacement for Chris Lynn, who, despite being the tournament’s all-time leading run-scorer, failed to fetch a contract from the franchise.