Peirson 'immensely proud' of Heat's late season revival despite falling short of title
Heat captain wants to follow champions Scorchers' template of backing core players in order to become a consistent force
After Brisbane Heat fell agonisingly short of a BBL title after a remarkable revival, "immensely proud" captain Jimmy Peirson said his emerging team was on a pathway to emulating champions Perth Scorchers' sustained success.
Having stormed into the final on the back of seven wins from eight games, underdog Heat were given little chance against powerhouses Scorchers at a feverish Optus Stadium packed with 53,886 rowdy locals.
But after posting a strong 7 for 175, Heat were in the box seat of a see-saw Scorchers chase when Ashton Turner was run-out in a horrendous mix-up for 53.
That left Scorchers still needing 39 runs off 19 balls with inexperienced pair Cooper Connolly and Nick Hobson at the crease.
"When we had the run out of Ash Turner we thought we were in the box seat to win that game," Peirson told reporters after the match.
Lifted by a frenetic crowd, Connolly and Hobson defied Heat at the death with blistering batting under pressure to become instant heroes as Scorchers prevailed in the final over by five wickets.
"They had a couple of young players come out and do something special," Peirson said. "The courage they played with took the game out of our hands. We were right in control until they hit a few boundaries in quick succession."
Heat were crestfallen knowing they had opportunities to claim a second title and conjure arguably the greatest upset in BBL history. A dropped catch from Josh Brown at deep point off a skier from Connolly on 19 ultimately proved costly.
"It's a steep learning curve, it doesn't get much bigger," Peirson said of the dropped catch. "He'll be ok. Everyone drops catches. I've dropped plenty and it won't be the last he drops."
"We're adopting a similar template (to Scorchers). They've kept their state players; a core of players they have had for years and we look at our squad now and they are mostly Queensland state representatives."Jimmy Peirson
As the bitterness wears off, Heat will be able to fondly reminisce over their barnstorming late season run, which included three finals victories on the road in six days.
"Immensely proud," Peirson said of Heat, who won just two of their first eight games of the season. "The group isn't full of household names, like other teams, my vision for this team is making the most of our parts and I think we are starting to do that."
Heat's revival was sparked by mid-season returns of Test stars Usman Khawaja, who took the captaincy reins from Peirson, and Marnus Labuschagne.
But their depth was tested deep in the finals series without Khawaja, Labuschagne, batter Matt Renshaw and legpsinner Mitchell Swepson, who are all part of Australia's tour of India.
Heat had to rely on a slew of younger players, who have cut their teeth in Queensland Cricket's development system. It's a template that has been perfected by Scorchers and helped fuel their domination of the competition.
"We're adopting a similar template (to Scorchers). They've kept their state players; a core of players they have had for years and we look at our squad now and they are mostly Queensland state representatives," Peirson said.
"The beauty of that is you're training together all year round and you're having those conversations. Rather than (having) six-seven (players) from interstate and overseas."
Heat have been up and down over the years, but Peirson believed they were well poised to become a consistent force much like trendsetters Scorchers and Sixers.
"We have the right personnel. We are building towards something," Peirson said. "This season has given us tremendous confidence in what we can do. We'll come back bigger and better next year."
Tristan Lavalette is a journalist based in Perth