The Adelaide Strikers and the Brisbane Heat are set to be boosted by the availability of their national representatives for Thursday night’s crucial BBL clash at Adelaide Oval.
Having been with Australia’s Test squad since last month, Heat pair Marnus Labuschagne and Mitchell Swepson, and Strikers duo Travis Head and Michael Neser are poised to play in what is shaping as a must-win clash for both teams.
Due to COVID-19-enforced travel restrictions, border closures and quarantine requirements, the quartet needed exemptions to play on Thursday night.
And provided their latest COVID-19 tests come back with negative results, Test star Labuschagne, leg-spinner Swepson, batsman Head and swing bowler Neser will be cleared to play.
The news is a huge boot for both sides. who are sitting outside the top five with five wins and six losses from 11 matches.
The sixth-placed Heat are a bonus point in front of the Strikers, who are only ahead of the struggling Melbourne Renegades on the table.
Strikers leg-spinner Liam O’Connor said having captain Head and Nasser in Adelaide’s team to play the Heat would be a “massive bonus”.
“At this stage it’s just up to the Government,” O’Connor said.
“We’ll just come out with a team that’s available and we’ll just play how we can.”
The Strikers are also hopeful paceman Peter Siddle will return from a fractured thumb after an impressive week on the training paddock.
O’Connor has the added pressure of having to fill the void left by departed Strikers spinner Rashid Khan, who last week left the squad represent Afghanistan in a limited-over series against Ireland in the UAE.
“You’ve got to be always prepared whether you’re playing or not playing,” O’Connor said.
“It would be great to have Rash here and playing alongside him but that’s just how it is so I’m always ready to go.”
O’Connor has enjoyed bowling against the Heat, with his career-best BBL figures of 3-30 coming against Brisbane at Adelaide Oval in January last year.
“We have performed well at Adelaide Oval and that’s always been the key to us, playing home games. We just play really well in front of our home crowd,” he said.
Adelaide Oval has also confirmed as the venue for the Australia Day clash between the Heat and the Scorchers that originally scheduled to take place at the SCG.
It’s part of a January 26 BBL triple-header, with the other two games to be played at the MCG, where the Renegades meet the Hurricanes, and the Stars take on the Sixers.