01/03/2024

Michael Neser is leading a new generation at the Brisbane Heat (Photo: cricket.com.au / Twitter; Design: Theo Dimou)

The Brisbane Heat have always been known for bringing the heat on the cricket pitch. Over the years, the Queensland side have hosted the likes of Ryan Harris, Andrew Flintoff and Morne Morkel, but now the Heat are blooding a new generation of quicks.

Fostered by experienced all-rounder Michael Neser, the Brisbane Heat have one of the most exciting bowling attacks in the competition. While players such as Xavier Bartlett and Mark Steketee had an impact last season, Neser was impressed by the talents of South Australian Spencer Johnson. The veteran said that Johnson’s ability to display both speed and precision in his bowling makes him a scary prospect. 

“He’s just a natural talent,” Neser told The Inner Sanctum

“His accuracy was something that surprised me. For a person who’s bowling 150 [kilometres] plus and land them on the mark so consistently is kind of scary.”

“Seeing him against [Chris Lynn] and being too quick for him is bloody exciting.” 

The left-arm quick has risen up the ranks over the last 12 months. Becoming a bona fide death bowler for the Heat, Johnson made a name for himself during The Hundred. On debut for the Oval Invincibles, the 27-year-old took the world by storm with figures of 3/1 off 20 deliveries. Neser said that its spells like this that could see the speedster in the Australian test team. 

“We might lose him to test cricket if he keeps doing stuff like that,” Neser said.  

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If Johnson continues to push his case for test selection, he will have to contend with his Brisbane Heat teammate. Neser has been a bridesmaid for the Australian test team for several years.

A prominent squad member since the 2019 Ashes in England, the 33-year-old has played just the two test matches for Australia. Part of a long list of fast bowlers vying for selection, the Queenslander is in readiness should an opportunity present itself.   

“Looking at pace and who can come in bar myself there’s Spencer Johnson, Lance Morris, Scott Boland who can all do a great job,” he said. 

“It’s a great spot for our country to be in but as a fast bowler it’s tough because there’s not much opportunity but if it arises, I’ll be ready.”

Domestically, Neser will be looking to improve on their Grand Final heartache from last season after a clutch partnership from Cooper Connolly and Nick Hobson prevented the Heat from winning their second BBL title. The right-arm seamer believes they can take the competition by storm if they play their best cricket on a consistent basis. 

“We got so close last year, and I don’t think we played nearly our best cricket, we just left our run late. So I think if we’re more consistent throughout this tournament we can definitely set the competition on fire.”

With pick seven in the overseas draft on Sunday night, Neser remains open-minded about who the Heat should select with their picks. However, he would be glad to welcome back experienced players in Colin Munro, Sam Billings and Sam Hain to the team. 

“We saw having experience like Munro, Billings and even Sam Hain who’s played a lot of white ball [cricket] is so valuable for our team to learn off those players as well and bring a bit of a calmness to the team,” he said. 

“I don’t know what route we’re going to go down, but I’d be happy to play with those players again.” 

The Brisbane Heat will kick their season off on December 7 when they host the Melbourne Stars at the GABBA.

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