England batsman Banton pulls out of upcoming season of Big Bash League

England batsman Tom Banton has pulled out of the upcoming season of the Big Bash League (BBL) due to concerns over hotel quarantine and bio-bubble measures in Australia. Banton had missed last year’s BBL because of similar concerns about his well being. Banton played seven games in ninth season of the BBL for Brisbane Heat and smacked 223 runs at a strike rate of 176.98, including three half-centuries before signing a two-year contract.

“It was a difficult decision but one that I know was the right one for me given the situation. I’d like to thank the club for their understanding and the Heat fans, who made it such a memorable experience when I was there last time. I have very good memories of my time with the Heat and the way I was looked after there. I wish the lads all the best for the coming season and will be cheering them on,” said Banton in a release issued by the club on Saturday.

With Banton pulling out of the BBL, Brisbane will now search for a third overseas player. They already have signed England’s Ben Duckett and Afghanistan’s Mujeeb Ur Rahman.

“We had some good conversations with Tom during The Hundred about his intentions and certainly gave him the time and space to make his decision. In the end, he was honest and upfront with his decision-making and told us how disappointed he was not to be coming out, but we understand and accept his decision,” said head coach Wade Seccombe.

“We support Tom as we do all of our players. I’m sure that our fans and supporters will join us in wishing him the best in the future with his cricket. We have some contingencies to explore in terms of completing our squad and we are working on that now,” added Seccombe.

Having finished third last season, Brisbane have retained largely the same squad together for eleventh season of the BBL with some notable changes. Joe Burns has joined the Melbourne Stars while Michael Neser returns to Brisbane after nine seasons with the Adelaide Strikers.

The biggest change, though, is coming in leadership after Chris Lynn stepped down from the job and is likely to be replaced by Jimmy Peirson. Former Australia head coach Darren Lehmann has taken an assistant coaching role, allowing Seccombe to move upwards as the head coach.

Brisbane Heat squad (till now): Xavier Bartlett, Tom Cooper, Ben Duckett (England), Sam Heazlett, Marnus Labuschagne, Chris Lynn, Jimmy Peirson, Michael Neser, Mark Steketee, Mitchell Swepson, Mujeeb Ur Rahman (Afghanistan) and Matthew Willans