Michael Neser
Michael Neser blasted a half-century in the BBL clash at the Gabba between the Heat and Scorchers. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS
  • cricket

Neser stars as Heat beat Scorchers, secure BBL top spot

Joel Gould January 11, 2024

Brisbane Heat have wrapped up the BBL top spot and a home qualifying final with a 23-run win over Perth Scorchers on the back of a stunning all-round Michael Neser performance.

Neser’s unbeaten 64 from 30 deliveries, his highest score in the BBL, was the match-turning innings at The Gabba on Wednesday that lifted the Heat to 6-191 after they had been 5-91 in the 13th over and in dire trouble.

Allrounder Neser (2-31) then shone with the ball and in the field. He removed the dangerous Zac Crawley (13) early and topped it off with a brilliant running catch at deep mid-on to dismiss Josh Inglis (28 off 20) just when he was looking dangerous. 

The Heat fast bowlers turned the screws to restrict the Scorchers to 9-168 despite the best efforts of  Laurie Evans (51 off 20). Heat speed demon Spencer Johnson (2-23) bowled at 140 kph in a fiery and productive spell.

The Heat moved to 16 points, five clear of defending champions Perth and in an unassailable position.

They will now host the BBL qualifier on the Gold Coast on January 19 against the team that finishes second, with the winners going through to the final. 

Marnus Labuschagne
 Returning Marnus Labuschagne was in great form for the Heat but got out when looking well set. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

Their tactic of delaying the power surge until the 18th over reaped rewards, with the pair plundering 30 in 12 balls.

Neser walloped 20 off the last over from Jason Behrendorff, including three sixes.

The Heat batted first after skipper Usman Khawaja won the bat flip.

Khawaja, displaying the dove and olive branch of peace on his bat and shoes to draw attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, raced to 14 off eight deliveries. He broke his first bat after just facing four balls.

Usman Khawaja's shoes
 A dove of peace is seen on the cricket boots of Usman Khawaja of the Brisbane Heat. Image by Darren England/AAP PHOTOS 

The Heat were unable to break away early, losing wickets at regular intervals.

Marnus Labuschagne (45 off 33 deliveries), returning with Khawaja from the Australian Test line-up to play BBL, was in superb form but fell just when he was set to cut loose.

The Scorchers were disciplined early with the ball.

Spinner Ashton Agar (2-29 off four) showcased his class to restrict the Heat batters, picking up Matt Renshaw (18 off 15).

The Heat will be without their Test stars in the finals, along with batters Sam Billings and Colin Munro who will join their International League T20 teams in the United Arab Emirates.

Neser said the Heat were not relying on one player, but everyone was contributing.

“The story of the whole tournament is that we are all gelling on the field and off the field,” he told Fox Sports.

“Everyone is playing their roles superbly and we have adapted well. We play all the way to end of games and we have been on from game one.

“Fingers crossed we can continue this form into the finals.”