New pairing to bring the Heat in Big Bash
THEY'VE had batting's Bash Brothers. Now the Brisbane Heat are hopeful they possess a one-two punch with the ball.
Recruits Mujeeb Ur Rahman and James Pattinson are an odd couple, but they present a counter-attack capable of knocking out the opposition in this season's Big Bash League.
Rahman is the 17-year-old spinning prodigy from Afghanistan, Pattinson the 28-year-old tearaway quick from Victoria aiming to one day return to the Test arena.
The first male cricketer born in the 21st century to play at international level, Rahman is the youngest signing in the domestic Twenty20 competition's history.
The off-spinner played in Afghanistan's inaugural Test match against India, and has since played 23 ODIs and seven T20Is.
He claimed 14 wickets for Kings XI Punjab in this year's Indian Premier League, piquing the interest of Heat coach Daniel Vettori.
Heat keeper/batsman Jimmy Peirson admits to never having heard of the young bowler before being signed.
"I've got to work closely with him to pick up all of his different deliveries," he said.
"I asked him 'how many different balls have you got?'. He goes 'well, I have four different wrong'uns'.
"There's different grips, different speeds."
Having put his name up in lights in the IPL under the guidance of Indian offie Ravi Ashwin, Rahman won't be overawed by the BBL.
"There is a slight language barrier there but he's got the basics of communicating with us," Peirson said. "He's very quiet, He's only 17.
"Australia is obviously a very different country to where he comes from.
"I think he feels very privileged to be playing in this competition. We are very privileged to have him. I can't wait to see what he does for us this season."
After what Peirson described as an "eye-opening" display during a Heat training camp on the Gold Coast, Rahman put everyone on notice during a Brisbane club game on the weekend for Norths.
He finished with 2/17 against Toombul, taking the prize scalp of new Heat captain Chris Lynn.
"He just didn't pick his wrong'un," Peirson said.
"If someone like Lynny is not picking him, I think a few of the other guys in the competition will struggle." Rahman will form a dangerous spinning combination with one-time Australian representative leggie Mitch Swepson.
Spinners are having such an impact in T20, every team now must have at least two.
"Spinners have become really dominant. They're taking heaps of wickets," Peirson said.
There is always a place for a big, fast strike bowler however. Enter Pattinson, who continues his comeback from back surgery.
Pattinson took 70 wickets in 17 Tests at an average of 26.15 before succumbing to injury in 2016.
He's back bowling at speeds of 145km/h plus.
"I'm so excited to have him in our side ... I'm glad I don't have to face him this year.
"He's bowling fast again, he's looking as fit as he ever has ... looking really strong. He is a fierce competitor. I think no matter what side he plays for he plays to win.
"I can't wait to see him rip in. He'll scare a few people."
The Heat's batting line-up will again be spearheaded by the pairing at the top of the order of Brendan McCullum and Lynn.
Peirson doesn't expect it to be just a two-man show.
"There's a belief that if they don't score runs the Heat have no chance of winning," he said. "I disagree with that."
As well as Joe Burns, Alex Ross and Peirson himself in the middle order, Test opener Matt Renshaw and teenage sensation Max Bryant are keen to make an impact.
"If he (Renshaw) gets a go, and I think he should, he will show people he's not just a Test player. He can hit the ball as far as anyone and score as fast as anyone.
"We have also got another Bash Brother in the making in Maxi. He put on a couple of clinics down there on those small grounds in New South Wales (during the domestic one-dayers). There were some big sixes being hit."
The Heat host the defending champions, the Adelaide Strikers, in the season opener tonight at what will be a packed Gabba.