Cricket match prediction: Michael Nether ready to improve after Heat loses test star

Brisbane Heat allrounder Michael Neser says he is ready to step up and be the calming influence for the rest of the bowling attack in the absence of “spiritual leader” Usman Khawaja in the Big Bash ‘Challenger’ final against Sydney Sixers.

At the SCG on Thursday night, Heat will be without their gun quartet of Test tourists to India that includes skipper Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Matt Renshaw and Mitchell Swepson.

Khawaja had been in great form with the bat in Heat’s run of six wins from their last seven games, but his words of wisdom at mid-off to the bowlers in tight situations were also priceless.

“Uzzy was in our ears and thinks he is the spiritual leader of our bowling attack but not having Uzzy there is a big loss,” Neser said at Brisbane Airport before flying to Sydney. “I will probably have to step up and help our bowling attack because Uzzy gave us that calming influence on the field. As a bowling unit we have all got to step up and do our job.”

Neser, who has 97 BBL dismissals to his credit in a stellar career, said it was “a great honour” to be named in the BBL team of the tournament and crowned domestic player of the year at the Australian Cricket Awards on Monday night.

Despite being without their big names, Neser said the Heat’s revival had been a team display.

“One of the good things we’ve done this tournament is that it hasn’t been one person performing,” he said. “We start off real slow in this tournament and we’ve come home hot, as the Heat normally do.”

Also named in the team of the tournament, Sixers paceman Sean Abbott is disappointed he won’t have the chance to bowl to Heat’s Test contingent as Sydney look to bounce back from their qualifying final loss to the Perth Scorchers.

“They’re the sort of players that you want to come up against in finals, their best line-up in the biggest matches” he said. “In any case, we are a confident bowling team and we are doing very well.

The Heat are the only team the Sixers haven’t won this summer, and two of his two games have been knocked out in the first inning. However, the team is yet to make it to his SCG, and the Sixers have won all five of his games so far this summer.

“We clearly have a home field advantage,” Abbott said. “These guys will do it tomorrow night.”

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