AB de Villiers, who made his BBL debut in the 2019 season representing Brisbane Heat, will not be partaking in the 2020/21 season due to family commitments, Heat coach Darren Lehmann confirmed on Tuesday. The Brisbane-based franchise have, however, retained the services of Mujeeb ur Rahman.
A week after roping in a plethora of big names, including Jason Roy, Rashid Khan and Dawid Malan, the Big Bash League (BBL) has been slapped with the news that AB de Villiers will not be taking part in the forthcoming edition of the tournament. De Villiers, one year ago, signed up with Brisbane Heat in what was seen as the biggest signing in BBL history but this season, it is believed that a combination of Covid-19 travel complications and family commitments - his wife is expecting their third child - have forced the South African to pull out of the tournament.
The news was confirmed by Heat coach Darren Lehmann, who admitted that AB will be a player who the club would “like to keep working with”.
"While things initially looked fine for him to come back, there have been a few factors emerging which have changed everyone's plans," coach Darren Lehmann was quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
"The main one, aside from the challenges represented by Covid-19 and international travel, is that AB and his wife Danielle are expecting their third child very soon.
"Naturally we're very pleased for them and know that the next few months will be a very special time for all. We'll stay in contact and see what develops. He has been in excellent touch in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, so he obviously remains a player we'd like to keep working with when the circumstances allow."
Meanwhile, de Villiers, himself, hinted at a possible return to the Heat in the future, claiming that there is ‘unfinished business’ to deal with.
"It's exciting for Danielle and me with the arrival of our new baby very soon. So with a young, growing family, and the uncertainty around travel and conditions due to Covid-19, we reluctantly decided it wasn't going to be this season. The Heat were great to us last summer and I am very open to returning to the club in the future. The team didn't get the results we were hoping for and I consider there is some unfinished business to deal with,” de Villiers said.
Although not securing the services of de Villiers, the Heat did, however, snap up the services of Afghan sensation Mujeeb ur Rahman for the third season running. Mujeeb, in his BBL career, has picked 15 wickets at ER of 6.09, and coach Lehmann expressed delight in welcoming back the 19-year-old for yet another stint with the club.
"He's doing a lot of the little things as well as anyone, and his control and maturity have gone to a new level, I believe," Lehmann said of Mujeeb.
"He was outstanding in the Caribbean Premier League recently when he was the second leading wicket-taker in the competition, and he's shown in the IPL that he can handle the very best. We're very pleased to have him back with us and with the BBL schedule potentially looking quite different to the usual format, his versatility and ability to create chances in a range of conditions will be very important for us."