Usman Khawaja has further cemented his ‘Queenslander’ status by joining the Brisbane Heat after a long spell with Sydney Thunder.

Test star Usman Khawaja has signed a four-year BBL contract with Brisbane Heat after parting ways with Sydney Thunder.

Already Queensland’s Sheffield Shield skipper, the 35-year-old batsman has furthered his Sunshine State status by linking with the Heat.

“I always thought I would finish off as a Thunder player, but it is funny how things change,’’ Khawaja said.

“I’ve said it for a long time that Brisbane is home, Queensland is home, and to be here, captain of Queensland, and now joining the Heat – it is really exciting.

“I like to say I used to be an honorary Queensland and now I am one.”

A foundation Thunder player, Khawaja was released from his contract with the Sydney club in February for family reasons.

He is the Thunder’s all-time leading scorer with 1818 runs and has a career strike rate of 129.85.

“I know I will be playing in front of my family, and a home crowd, when I am at the Gabba or Metricon Stadium with the Heat,” he said.

“I love the Thunder and the Thunder Nation, but at the same time, this is a change that comes at the right time.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, it was a very tough one, but the timing just feels right.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of trying something new by joining them (the Heat) now.”

Khawaja will share the Heat’s captaincy with wicket-keeper Jimmy Peirson.

Queensland Cricket and Heat CEO Terry Svenson said: “It will mirror the current situation within the Bulls set-up, with Usman captaining the team when he is available and Jimmy taking the reins when Usman is not there.

“I’m sure our fans have nothing but respect for what Usman has achieved in the game with the Thunder and will be thrilled to see him in teal for this next phase of his career.

“He’s a skilful and proven performer in T20 cricket, a highly-regarded leader on the field, and an innovative and inclusive individual away from cricket.

“Having Usman as a leader with both Queensland Cricket and the Heat delivers benefits across the game, both on and off the field.

“Queensland Cricket has a goal to better engage with our multicultural community and develop greater diversity within the game, and Usman’s passion in this space is well known.

“We’re excited to complete the circle and bring Usman into the Heat club as part of his commitment to the wider Queensland Cricket family.”

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