Shane Watson has signed a three-year deal with the Brisbane Heat on the second-last day of the initial Big Bash League contract window. Watson, who is originally from Queensland, was on the Sydney Sixers' roster last year and although his international commitments are expected to limit his BBL availability, he said he was keen to work with the Heat coach Darren Lehmann whenever possible.

"Boof [Lehmann] is a great bloke and has made a really big impact as a coach since he went down that path," Watson said. "I know the Queensland boys have really enjoyed their cricket under him and it seems a really great fit for me to join the Heat and get to work with him.

"My priority will be to play as much cricket for Australia as I can this summer but the BBL is an exciting thing to be a part of. I love T20 cricket and I'm looking forward to being back home playing in front of friends and family."

There were several other moves on Thursday, with the Melbourne Renegades hitting back at the Adelaide Strikers after they poached Andrew McDonald and Shaun Tait from the Renegades over the past fortnight. The Renegades have picked up three men who performed solidly for the Strikers last season: Daniel Harris, who was the Strikers' second-leading run scorer; Aaron O'Brien, who was their top wicket taker; and the batsman Tom Cooper.

In other moves, the Sydney Thunder lost Doug Bollinger to the Hobart Hurricanes, while the Thunder picked up Ryan Carters from the Renegades and Cameron Borgas from the Strikers, and signed Jason Floros. The wicketkeeper-batsman Daniel Smith, who played for the Thunder last summer, has moved to the Sixers.

The Sixers also re-signed Mitchell Starc and Nic Maddinson, while the Melbourne Stars were happy to lock in six key bowlers: James Pattinson, Clint McKay, Jackson Bird, James Faulkner, John Hastings and Clive Rose. The Hurricanes, as well as signing Bollinger, confirmed that Timm van der Gugten would be part of their squad this year.

The Strikers picked up the allrounder Michael Neser from the Brisbane Heat and the batsman Nathan Reardon from the Renegades. The eight teams have until the end of Friday to confirm at least 14 players for the 2012-13 tournament.