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Big Bash League: Khawaja set to leave Thunder

Star batsman Usman Khawaja has told the Sydney Thunder he wants to leave the franchise to be closer to his family in Brisbane next summer.

Khawaja was under contract with the Thunder for BBL12 but has asked to be released from it so he can spend more time in Brisbane next summer.

Tough decision

The 35-year-old's wife is due to give birth to their second child in April and the Khawaja is keen to put family first as the clock ticks on his career.

The Australian Test ace says he has not taken the decision lightly and the Thunder will always remain close to his heart, but it is time to step away.

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"It's the toughest call I've made as a cricketer because Sydney Thunder mean so much to me," Khawaja said in a statement on Friday. "However, it is for family reasons. And while I'm leaving, people who know me realise a big part of my heart will always remain with Thunder.

"I don't want people to think I've cut my ties because I'll always care about the club, the players, the entire organisation."

There has been no mention of Khawaja playing on in the BBL with the Brisbane Heat but no doubt speculation over the possibility of that happening will hot up in due course.

Bumper contract

Cricket NSW's head of male cricket, Michael Klinger, said the Thunder had offered a long-term contract extension to Khawaja but they respected his decision to turn it down

"It's disappointing. Sydney Thunder and Cricket NSW definitely wanted him to stay and we offered a highly competitive contract," Klinger said in a statement.

"However we appreciate Usman's decision has been made for his family, and we respect and support that."

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