Mark Higgs, the left-arm spinner who last played state cricket in 2005, has won a surprise call-up to the Big Bash League for the Hobart Hurricanes. Higgs, 36, has been confirmed as a replacement player for Ben Hilfenhaus, who was ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to injury, and could make his Twenty20 debut against the Brisbane Heat on Saturday.
The chance for a BBL deal appeared to have passed Higgs by when the Adelaide Strikers preferred fellow veteran Brad Young after trialing both men before the tournament began. But the Hurricanes apparently took note and have gambled on Higgs, who is the coach of the ACT Comets Futures League side and until last summer was the captain.
The absence of fellow left-arm orthodox bowler Xavier Doherty, who is part of Australia's ODI squad, could make Higgs an important player for the Hurricanes if they reach the finals. An allrounder who played for both New South Wales and South Australia from 1997-98 until late 2005, Higgs was good enough to play for Australia A and toured with the national side to the ICC KnockOut Trophy in Kenya.
In other squad changes on Wednesday, the batsman Travis Head was approved as a replacement for the injured James Smith in the Adelaide Strikers squad, while Adam Crosthwaite could play for the Sydney Sixers in their last qualifying match. Brad Haddin, the Sixers' first-choice gloveman, is part of the ODI squad and the backup Daniel Smith faces a fitness test ahead of Wednesday night's game against the Melbourne Renegades.