Brisbane Heat have been dealt another hammer blow before the Big Bash League with English power-hitter Tom Banton opting out of the tournament.
The 22-year-old’s mental health has suffered from extended stints in quarantine bubbles and is behind his decision to forego travelling to Australia for a second season with the Queensland franchise.
Banton is in South Africa with England’s white-ball squad after previously being in Dubai for a two-month Indian Premier League stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders.
“It has been harder than I thought spending so much time in the hubs and bubbles and I came to the realisation that it wasn’t doing me much good,” he said.
“I know the Heat looked after me really well during the BBL last year and I was confident that they would understand.”
While disappointed to not have the services of the destructive top-order batsman, Heat coach Darren Lehmann praised Banton’s brave decision.
“He’s an impressive person and someone who we know would not have made a decision like this lightly and not without a great deal of soul-searching,” Lehmann said.
“After speaking with him at length, the best option for him is to head home to his family and loved ones and give himself every chance to recover.
“We’ve always been strong as a club that your family comes first and so we back his decision 100 per cent and hope he is feeling restored and mended very soon.”
It is the latest blow for the Heat, who were already going to be without South African legend AB de Villiers.
And on Friday, fellow import Mujeeb Ur Rahman was taken to hospital after the Afghani spinner tested positive for COVID-19.
Mujeeb will almost certainly miss Brisbane’s first two matches of the BBL campaign as he recovers from the illness.