PRETORIA (92 news) - AB de Villiers is set to make his make long-awaited Big Bash League debut after signing for Brisbane Heat for the 2019-20 season, the franchise confirmed on Tuesday, 1 October.
Heat has responded to the retirement of Brendon McCullum earlier this year by roping in de Villiers, who will join the side for the second half of the season. The former South Africa batsman had hinted at joining the BBL before, and has finally confirmed his availability for the tournament.
“I've spoken to Chris [Lynn, the Heat captain] a few times after games in the IPL," de Villiers said. "I always enjoy the way he plays the game, he really goes after the bowling, he attacks the game, and he seems like a really good team-mate. He gives his best shot for the boys. I'm looking forward to joining forces with him.
The 2019 edition of the BBL begins on 17 December, but de Villiers will join the franchise only next year – he wants to spend the holidays with his family.
"You go through moments after retirement when you're really keen to play, then you just want to be at home," de Villiers said. "It's really difficult to balance that out, time spent at home and time away, so I'm very selective of where I play at the moment, and the body is getting a bit older so I can't play too much.
"I like to be at home over the Christmas and New year period, but I couldn't say no to coming to Brisbane and joining in on the fun. It's one of the best tournaments around and I've been following it for a while now. From what I've heard from other players who have played there, it's just all positives. The standard of cricket is good, and they get big crowds."
I must say the Brisbane Heat have always stood out to me; they play the kind of cricket that I want to play
De Villiers will be the third overseas player in Heat's squad, alongside the Afghanistan spin duo of Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan. Lynn, Marnus Labuschange and Joe Burns make for a strong batting line-up, and the South African said he hopes to add to that.
“I must say the Brisbane Heat have always stood out to me," added de Villiers. "They play the kind of cricket that I want to play – it's quite aggressive and they go after the attack. And the Gabba is a beautiful cricket ground. It’s got a great wicket and games are always of high quality.
“Lynn is one hell of a player. You have a sleepless night or two before you play against him. He’s a destructive batter who can take the game away from you in a couple of overs, so it’s great to have him on our team."