AFTER emerging from nowhere to star for Queensland in the Sheffield Shield this season, Sunshine Coast fast bowling revelation Matthew Gale hopes to leave a similar imprint on the Big Bash League.
Gale has been named in Brisbane Heat's 13-man squad for its Big Bash opener against Sydney Sixers at the SCG tonight, but will have to wait until today to find out if he will be in the starting 11 for the historic Twenty20 clash.
Whatever happens, the very fact the 28-year-old has been chosen for the Heat is an amazing achievement given his virtual no-name status on arriving from Victoria to play for the Scorchers this season.
The man himself still cannot believe what he has achieved this season, including bagging six wickets on debut for Queensland in its outright win over Western Australia in Perth early last month.
"I wasn't really expecting this (rapid rise)," Gale said from Sydney yesterday afternoon after his first training session at the SCG.
"If you told me this (would happen) at the start of the season, I would have said that you're lying.
"I've just tried to grab every opportunity the best I can - take it in and learn as much as I can."
The former Australian under-19 representative, who toiled for years in grade cricket in Melbourne, made his first-class debut after his outstanding XXXX Gold first-grade form could not be ignored by the Bulls.
He followed his eye-catching performance against WA with another top display in the Bulls' outright win over South Australia in Adelaide in round five, taking 5-81 in the home side's first innings.
In three Shield games, he has taken a total of 14 wickets at a very respectable average of 29.01.
If he gets the chance to play against the Sixers tonight, Gale intends to make the most of the opportunity - just like he has done all season.
"Hopefully, if the opportunity is there I'll grab it," the right-arm quick said.
"If not, I'm looking forward to the opportunity of being amongst some of the better players that play the game and learn as much as I can."
Scorchers coach Brad Murphy is convinced that Gale has what it takes to be a success in the Big Bash, comparing him to ageing Australia and Queensland fast bowler Ryan Harris.
"Ryan Harris came here (to Queensland) with a similar game," Murphy said.
"You play your best cricket in your late 20s and mid 30s. We've tended to rush our sportsmen too bloody early.
"(Gale's best is yet to come) provided he can stay fit of course."
Gale has found himself among exalted company in Sydney, including veteran trio Matthew Hayden, Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill.
Lee, 35, and MacGill, 40, will turn out for the Sixers, and Hayden, 40, will be headlining for the Heat.
Twenty20 season opener
Brisbane Heat v Sydney Sixers, 6pm tonight, SCG
Sydney: Brad Haddin (capt), Dwayne Bravo, Ed Cowan, Josh Hazlewood, Moises Henriques, Brett Lee, Michael Lumb, Stuart MacGill, Nic Maddinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc. 12th man: Dominic Thornely
Brisbane: James Hopes (capt), Nick Buchanan, Dan Christian, Peter Forrest, Matthew Gale, Chris Hartley, Nathan Hauritz, Matthew Hayden, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Andrew Robinson, Chris Swan, Alister McDermott (two to be omitted)
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