A heartfelt email from Darren Lehmann helped the Brisbane Heat land the signature of AB de Villiers, who Chris Lynn has labelled the “Biggest signing in the history of the BBL”.
Some have suggested the BBL has lacked star power in recent seasons, but few would disagree with Lynn’s call that de Villiers represents the biggest fish the eight-year-old competition has ever reeled in.
South African great AB de Villiers will make his debut in Australia’s T20 Big Bash League during the 2019-20 season after signing with Brisbane Heat.
The 35-year-old prolific batsman will join the Heat for the second half of the eight-team competition that runs from December to February.
He hit 348 runs at 70 in eight hits for Middlesex with an astronomical strike-rate of 182.19 in England’s recently concluded domestic T20 competition, while he was typically brilliant for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League earlier this year (442 runs at 44, strike-rate of 154.00, from 13 innings) to justify his $A2.2 million contract.
Coach Darren Lehmann said he was “over the moon” to have the opportunity to work with de Villiers for the first time.
“We want him to play as many games as he can, but we’re really understanding that Christmas and New Year’s is really special to spend at home when you’ve been playing international cricket for so many years,” said Lehmann, who expects de Villiers to be available sometime in early January.
“He wants to play in the best competitions, he wants to play the best cricket he can. He’s a cricket ’nuffe’, which is great. He’s going to be fantastic for our young guys. He loves playing the game, he’s just passionate… Hopefully he stays on for years to come.”
“World class players don’t just come along every day and to have a player of AB’s stature and skill in the BBL is a fantastic outcome for everyone, not just the Heat,” he said.
“He’s a 360-degree player, great skills, outstanding temperament and an insightful leader.”
De Villiers played 114 Tests, 228 one-dayers and 78 T20s in a 14-year career for the Proteas before retiring from international cricket in 2018.
He starred for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in this year’s Indian Premier League, scoring 442 runs at an average of 44.20 with a rapid strike rate of 154.
He said the decision to join the Heat for the BBL from January, including the finals should they qualify, was an easy one to make.
“They play the kind of brand that I want to be associated with. It’s quite aggresive, they go after the at*ack, and I´m looking forward to going to the Gabba,” de Villiers said.
“It’s a beautiful cricket field. It´s a great wicket and games are always of a high quality.”