Covid-ravaged Brisbane Heat will field a line-up comprised almost entirely with newcomers when they clash with Melbourne Renegades on Thursday night in Geelong.
Fifth-placed Heat have become the latest BBL team decimated after 12 players and coach Wade Seccombe tested positive to Covid-19 and were forced into seven days isolation. They were unable to find enough replacements in time for Wednesday night's clash with Sydney Sixers at Gold Coast, which was postponed to a later date.
But they have scrambled to shore up their ranks and ensure the game against Renegades goes ahead with Heat selecting 10 debutants in their squad of 14. Tom Cooper
will take the captaincy reins, while Sam Heazlett and Mujeeb Ur Rahman are the only players remaining from Heat's last game against Hobart Hurricanes on January 1.
Heat, however, have received a timely boost with the inclusion of Pakistan batter Fakhar Zaman
, who was a recent international signing and is set make his BBL debut. Other additions include former Adelaide Strikers player Jake Lehmann
, the son of Heat assistant coach Darren Lehmann, and 19-year-old Will Prestwidge
whose brother Jack Prestwidge plays for Renegades.
"We're excited as a group, probably a bit nervous as individuals, but everyone is accepting of the circumstances and is raring to go,'' interim Heat head coach James Hopes said. "All of the players can look at this experience as an opportunity to improve, to test their skills, and simply enjoy the chance to play in the BBL and have some fun."
The spread of Covid-19 has impacted almost every BBL team with the tournament set to shift mostly to a hub in Melbourne in a desperate bid to combat the upheaval, which has wreaked havoc with the schedule.
Two-time defending champions Sydney Sixers announced on Thursday that four members of their squad have tested positive to Covid-19 after undergoing PCR tests. Sixers' next match is against league leaders Perth Scorchers on Sunday at Coffs Harbour.
Cricket Australia on Thursday postponed Friday night's clash between the Melbourne Stars and Adelaide Strikers.
Heat squad Tom Cooper (capt), Fakhar Zaman, Jack Clayton, Sam Heazlett, Jake Lehmann, Lachlan Pfeffer, Steve McGiffin, Will Prestwidge, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ronan McDonald, David Grant, Bryce Street, Paddy Dooley, Jack Wood