Teenage spin sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman has signed on with KFC Big Bash League outfit Brisbane Heat for another summer after an eye-catching first season.
The 18-year-old from Afghanistan collected 12 wickets at 23.41 apiece in BBL|08 and boasted an economy rate of 6.04, which was the best in the competition.
The Heat have also locked in fellow Afghan slow bowler Zahir Khan, with the left-arm wrist spinner playing a key role in his country’s maiden Test victory over Bangladesh earlier this month.
The 20-year-old is currently playing for the Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League. He played for Lancashire in the English Vitality Blast T20 competition last year and was signed by the Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League in 2018, only to be ruled out through injury.
The two spinners, who are close friends, declared their delight at being part of the BBL in 2019-20.
Mujeeb, who has tasted success in the UK T20 tournament and IPL since BBL|08, said he was ready to build on his debut season with Brisbane.
“I had so much fun playing at Brisbane Heat in my first year that I really wanted to return when the opportunity came,’’ Mujeeb said.
“They are great guys and I hope we can push for the finals this season.”
His teammate Zahir confirmed he had heard only good things about playing in the BBL from his Afghan teammates.
“This is a very exciting thing for me, especially to be joining the team where my good friend Mujeeb played last year. He told me great things about Brisbane Heat, so I am looking forward to this challenge so much,” he said.
Heat coach Darren Lehmann was delighted to confirm the spin twins as the first international recruits for the coming season.
“The new BBL contracting rules this season gave us some flexibility to work with them on any potential commitments around our tournament and we are very happy to have them joining us,’’ he said.
“I think the arrival of Afghanistan in international cricket has been one of the best things to happen to the game in recent years, and it is a real joy to see players like Mujeeb and Zahir grow in stature for their country and show their skills around the world.
“It’s great that the BBL has played a role in helping with that development with the likes of Mujeeb and now Zahir, joining Rashid Khan, Mohammad Nabi and Qais Ahmad in getting starts here.
Lehmann, who returned from England this week from Ashes commentary duties and scouting other recruits for the coming season, confirmed the two spinners would split playing time during the BBL.
“We’ll finalise the breakdown of matches with everyone as we get our final season preparations underway shortly,’’ he said.
Under the revamped contracting rules for BBL|09, every BBL club can contract up to six overseas players across the season, two more than in previous years.
Clubs are entitled to have a maximum of two overseas players on their 18-man roster, although they can now nominate an additional four overseas players as potential replacements throughout the course of the BBL|09 season.
The pilot ruling introduced last year in consultation with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) will continue in BBL|09, whereby clubs will have the flexibility to rotate these players in and out of their squads as required.