BBL: Morkel signs with Brisbane Heat; Sydney Thunder bring in Billings

Former South Africa fast bowler Morne Morkel has signed up with Brisbane Heat for the full season of the Big Bash League (BBL).

Morkel, who recently called time on his three-year stint with Surrey, has signed up with Heat in the capacity of a local player. The 36-year-old was a replacement international player for one game for the Perth Scorchers last summer but has signed for the full season for Heat after gaining permanent residency.

“I am still enjoying my cricket enormously and the chance to be part of the Heat squad is something I am keen to experience,” Morkel said.

“I admit it will be a bit unusual to call myself a local, but we are enjoying living and working here and this is another aspect of our lives that I am looking forward to being a part of,” he added.

The former Proteas fast bowler played for the Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils franchises, where he was captained by current Brisbane assistant coach and foundation Heat player James Hopes.

Sydney Thunder, on the other hand, have brought in England batsman Sam Billings and he’ll be joining the squad at the end of England’s white-ball tour of South Africa.

Billings joins Thunder in scintillating form after his memorable 118 for England in the recent ODI series against Australia. He scored his century after overcoming a powerful pace attack spearheaded by Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, and Josh Hazlewood to hit 14 boundaries and two sixes.

“Coming to the Big Bash after (batting consistently) against Australia’s finest is a big confidence booster,” he said. “You don’t take anything for granted, but to have that behind you definitely helps… it was something I was very proud of, and it’s definitely one of my best summers of cricket.”

The explosive England batsman further said another reason for joining Thunder was his firm friendships with coach Shane Bond, fellow Englishman Alex Hales, and crowd favourite Chris Green.

“‘Bondy’ is fantastic,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to work with some exceptional coaches and Shane is in that bracket. The squad that’s been assembled is very exciting. There’s a great blend of youth and experience, which is the key to winning any tournament.”