Khawaja had been in great form with the bat in Heat’s run of six wins from their last seven games, but his words of wisdom at mid-off to the bowlers in tight situations were also priceless.
“Uzzy was in our ears and thinks he is the spiritual leader of our bowling attack but not having Uzzy there is a big loss,” Neser said at Brisbane Airport before flying to Sydney. “I will probably have to step up and help our bowling attack because Uzzy gave us that calming influence on the field. As a bowling unit we have all got to step up and do our job.”
Neser, who has 97 BBL dismissals to his credit in a stellar career, said it was “a great honour” to be named in the BBL team of the tournament and crowned domestic player of the year at the Australian Cricket Awards on Monday night.
Despite being without their big names, Neser said the Heat’s revival had been a team display.
“One of the good things we’ve done this tournament is that it hasn’t been one person performing,” he said. “We start off real slow in this tournament and we’ve come home hot, as the Heat normally do.”
“They’re the sort of players that you want to come up against in finals, their best line-up in the biggest matches” he said. “We’re a confident bowling line-up anyway and we’re doing really well. We’ve got some things to improve on in the field from last game but we match up really well against these guys.”
Heat are the only side the Sixers have not defeated this summer, with the second of the their two games washed out during the first innings. But the sides are yet to face off at the SCG, where Sixers have won all five of their games so far this summer.
“We’ve got a distinct home ground advantage,” Abbott said. “Those boys are up against it tomorrow night.”