Matches (19)
T20 World Cup (6)
CE Cup (3)
T20 Blast (10)

Michael Neser ready to step up after Heat lose Test stars

They will have to overcome Sydney Sixers at the SCG if they are to reach the BBL final

Michael Neser bagged the first hat-trick of BBL 2022-23, Melbourne Renegades vs Brisbane Heat, BBL 2022-23, Geelong, December 21, 2022

Michael Neser has had an outstanding tournament  •  Getty Images

Brisbane Heat allrounder Michael Neser says he is ready to step up and be the calming influence for the rest of the bowling attack in the absence of "spiritual leader" Usman Khawaja in the Big Bash 'Challenger' final against Sydney Sixers.
At the SCG on Thursday night, Heat will be without their gun quartet of Test tourists to India that includes skipper Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Matt Renshaw and Mitchell Swepson.
Khawaja had been in great form with the bat in Heat's run of six wins from their last seven games, but his words of wisdom at mid-off to the bowlers in tight situations were also priceless.
"Uzzy was in our ears and thinks he is the spiritual leader of our bowling attack but not having Uzzy there is a big loss," Neser said at Brisbane Airport before flying to Sydney. "I will probably have to step up and help our bowling attack because Uzzy gave us that calming influence on the field. As a bowling unit we have all got to step up and do our job."
Neser, who has 97 BBL dismissals to his credit in a stellar career, said it was "a great honour" to be named in the BBL team of the tournament and crowned domestic player of the year at the Australian Cricket Awards on Monday night.
Despite being without their big names, Neser said the Heat's revival had been a team display.
"One of the good things we've done this tournament is that it hasn't been one person performing," he said. "We start off real slow in this tournament and we've come home hot, as the Heat normally do."
Also named in the team of the tournament, Sixers paceman Sean Abbott is disappointed he won't have the chance to bowl to Heat's Test contingent as Sydney look to bounce back from their qualifying final loss to the Perth Scorchers.
"They're the sort of players that you want to come up against in finals, their best line-up in the biggest matches" he said. "We're a confident bowling line-up anyway and we're doing really well. We've got some things to improve on in the field from last game but we match up really well against these guys."
Heat are the only side the Sixers have not defeated this summer, with the second of the their two games washed out during the first innings. But the sides are yet to face off at the SCG, where Sixers have won all five of their games so far this summer.
"We've got a distinct home ground advantage," Abbott said. "Those boys are up against it tomorrow night."