Banton, a right-handed top order batsman, stamped himself a player to watch in the Vitality Blast T20 competition with his batting flair resulting in a call-up for the English T20 International squad to tour New Zealand next month.
The 20-year-old found himself in exalted company last week when he was named England’s Young Cricketer of the Year, joining the likes of current English Test captain Joe Root, Ashes hero Ben Stokes, former Heat signing Andrew Flintoff and Queensland’s own Andrew Symonds to attain the award that has included 14 English captains amongst its winners.
Banton, a former England U-19 captain who was a teammate of Heat batsman Matt Renshaw in 2018 at Somerset, was the second leading runs-scorer in the Blast T20 competition, with 549 runs at a strike-rate of 161.47 including a stirring maiden T20 ton off just 51 balls against Kent.
His domestic T20 aggregate was the second highest of all time for a player 21 or under, with only India’s Rishbah Pant’s haul of 684 runs in the 2018 Indian Premier League tournament eclipsing it.
Banton also scored two one-day hundreds during the English county summer.
He will be with the Heat for the first eight games of BBL|09 and joins South African legend AB de Villiers and Afghanistan spinners Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Zahir Khan as Brisbane’s international recruits for the summer.
Banton, who is also a wicket-keeper, admitted it had been a whirlwind few months, culminating in International selection, a major award and his first overseas T20 contract where one of his teammates will be the great AB de Villiers.
“If you had asked me at the start of the summer would I imagine it going like this, I would have probably had a laugh and suggested you weren’t serious,’’ he said.
“I was blown away when it was announced last week that AB was coming to join the Heat so what was already going to be a huge experience just got bigger.”
I’m really looking forward to coming to Brisbane and seeing what Queensland has to offer after previously playing club cricket in Perth when I was younger. I’ve watched a fair bit of the BBL at home and it is a quality competition with so many outstanding players. I can’t wait to be honest.”
Heat coach Darren Lehmann said Banton’s recruitment had been a high priority.
“He was the talk of English cricket during their season,’’ he said. “Outside the Ashes, Tom was the player that a lot of people were really excited to be watching, and with good reason.”
“He’s a lovely striker of the ball and has that wide and varied range of shots you need to make the most of the early overs in the power play or to accelerate the scoring through the middle and back half of an innings.”
“The prospect of pairing him alongside some of our young batsmen like Max Bryant, his mate Matt Renshaw and Sam Heazlett is pretty enticing, that’s for sure. But we know Tom will also benefit from playing and being around the likes of Chris Lynn, Joe Burns, Ben Cutting and Marnus Labuschagne as he takes steps to expand his skills and experience in Australian conditions.”
“He’s joining us for the first half of the tournament but we’re hopeful he will have some time to catch-up with AB de Villiers at some point as that would be a great opportunity as part of his experience with the Heat.”
Lehmann said the club was close to finalizing its 18-man roster.
“We’re working on those last few spots, so we’ll keep a close eye on the Marsh One Day Cup and Sheffield Shield, and performances in Premier Cricket. It’s all about weighing up the options to give us the depth in the roles we feel we need for the tournament,” he said.
Under the revamped contracting rules for BBL|09, every BBL club can contract up to six international players across the season, two more than in previous years.
Clubs are entitled to have a maximum of two overseas players on their 18-man roster, although they can now nominate an additional four overseas players as potential replacements throughout the course of the BBL|09 season.
The pilot ruling introduced last year in consultation with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) will continue in BBL|09, whereby clubs will have the flexibility to rotate these players in and out of their squads as required.
Tickets for BBL Heat games will go on sale on 17 October through Ticketek.