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Banton To Miss BBL

05 December 2020

The Brisbane Heat have expressed their complete support for English batsman Tom Banton after granting him a release from his KFC Big Bash League contract for the coming season to return home to the United Kingdom following the current tour of South Africa.

Banton, who turned 22 last month, was scheduled to be available for the Heat after Christmas, once he completed two weeks of hotel quarantine in the wake of the South African tour where he has been a reserve, non-playing member of the ODI and T20I squad.

However, he contacted the club this week to inform them that he was unable to fulfill his contract in the wake of a year of almost constant cricket and bio-security restrictions stemming from the global pandemic.

The dynamic batsman made his BBL debut last season, before playing a One Day International series in South Africa and the Pakistan Super League in February on his return to England.

He featured in the northern summer limited overs series against Ireland, Pakistan and Australia that were held under strict bio-security regulations as well as some games for Somerset before heading to the rescheduled Indian Premier League in late September.

He made his debut in the IPL with the Kolkata Knight Riders, with the entirety of the two-month tournament conducted in bio-secure ‘bubbles’ in the United Arab Emirates.

He arrived in South Africa with England, shortly after the end of the IPL last month and entered another month-long bubble.

Banton re-signed with Brisbane for a further two seasons at the start of 2020 after hitting three half centuries at a team high strike rate of 176.98 in his haul of 223 runs in his debut BBL season.

Heat coach Darren Lehmann said while disappointed not to have Banton with the club again this summer, the Heat fully supported his decision.

“Look firstly Tom is a terrific young man. He’s an impressive person and someone who we know would not have made a decision like this lightly and not without a great deal of soul-searching,’’ he said.

“After speaking with him at length, the best option for him is to head home to his family and loved ones and give himself every chance to recover. We’ve always been strong as a club that your family comes first and so we back his decision 100 percent and hope he is feeling restored and mended very soon.”

“It is a very challenging time for many people and cricket is no exception. There is no normality or work life balance which is so important, especially in elite sport.

“The well-being of the players is paramount and I am sure everyone – fans, coaches, administrators, sponsors – recognizes that.

“We shouldn’t be critical of individuals making tough decisions so the best thing to do is to support them and back them.”

“It’s a setback for us, but we know there are people in our group, or those coming into our squad, who can rise to the occasion,” Lehmann said.

Banton thanked the Heat for their understanding and consideration.

“It has been harder than I thought spending so much time in the hubs and bubbles and I came to the realization that it wasn’t doing me much good,’’ he said from South Africa.

“I know the Heat looked after me really well during the BBL last year and I was confident that they would understand when I spoke to Boof and Lynny about going home to regroup.”

“I’d like to thank the fans and members who are getting ready to support the Heat during the tournament and pass on my regrets to them that I won’t be there.

“I will miss playing in front of the crowds at the Gabba and the Gold Coast who were so passionate about the Heat and hope that I can repeat that experience again in the future.”

“I will be following the lads during the season and hope the fans get behind and support my Somerset captain Lewis Gregory and Dan Lawrence who will be in their first BBL seasons. I am sure they will do a great job for us.”

Lehmann said allrounder Gregory would be available for the club after Christmas, while fellow Englishman Dan Lawrence will meet his new teammates next week ahead of the Heat’s opening BBL games in Canberra.

International spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman is also recuperating after testing positive to COVID-19 during his mandatory hotel quarantine period since arriving from Afghanistan at the start of the week.

“We are looking at the replacement options that may be available for us if needed over the duration of the tournament and will make some decisions shortly on the best course of action,’’ he said.

 

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